As part of my “making the most of New York” phase, I went to see House of Gucci at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is a hip movie theater with table service that offers delicious food and drinks as you enjoy the movie, and I did enjoy mine with a vegan burger with fries and a lager. Yum.
The movie follows The Black Widow of the Italian press, Patrizia Reggiani, who married the Gucci family and attempted to claim the family legacy through games, betrayals, and eventually murder. The movie has an all-star cast with Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek.
House of Gucci is directed by Ridley Scott, who Scott directed blockbusters like the science fiction The Martian (2015), the neo-noir dystopian Blade Runner (1982), the historical drama Gladiator (2000) and over fifty more movies of various genres through fifty-six years of filmmaking. Possibly because he is more of a producer, he is not one of the directors you’d vaguely have an idea of what to expect from their next movie. You’d expect that he foresaw box office success.
Was he wrong this time? House of Gucci did not receive great feedback from the audience. The movie being over 2,5 hours is intimidating enough to begin with, but I think there are some fantastic and not-so-fantastic aspects to it so let’s dive in.
Lady Gaga is excellent – The pop star had already crowned her compelling acting with an Oscar nomination for A Star Is Born (2018), but I think she took it to the next level in House of Gucci. She did an incredible job channeling Patrizia Reggiani’s energy, and the crazy look in her eyes stays with you days after you watch the movie. The actress brilliantly portrays how a woman will go to extremes when she has everything at stake.
Adam Driver is a beautiful, beautiful man – Some may think that’s so because he is tall. I say yes, and. After grabbing attention with Lena Dunham’s hit series Girls (2012-17), he gradually became one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. Driver was leading in three big movies this year, which was scary because I thought we would be sick of seeing his face, but no, not yet. In this movie, he delivers a charming Maurizio Gucci who is clueless about his wife’s ulterior motives until it’s too late.
Jared Leto – Why do they keep dressing this man up? We saw Jared Leto as a trans woman suffering from drug addiction and AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and as The Joker with green hair and white-painted face in Suicide Squad (2016). In House of Gucci, he plays Maurizio’s cousin, Paolo Gucci, a balding man with a double chin. Though I admire his shape-shifting abilities, I wasn’t a fan of his character. The character is supposed to be a comedic relief being this cringe person, but instead, I thought it was cringing to include such a character in the movie, and all his scenes felt way too long.
The timeline is expansive and excessive – The story spans from when Maurizio and Patrizia meet in 1970 to Maurizio Gucci’s murder in 1995. Showing every significant event within these 25 years in 2,5 hours doesn’t work quite well in this movie. The transitions often feel harsh as we jump from one big event to another. Inter-titles showing exact dates could help structure the narrative better, but the director includes such titles only in the final two scenes. I wish we had it for every sequence for the sake of consistency, and the huge time jumps wouldn’t have felt as awkward then because we would expect a new chapter with every inter-title. Or, maybe, we would appreciate the story more if we watched it as a series. Who knows.
English director and North American actors telling an Italian story – I can’t help but think how it would be different if the movie were from an Italian director. After all, betrayal and ambition are universal feelings but manifest differently in each cultural context. The story we watch is based on actual events but is imagined from an outsider’s perspective. Yet, this also means that we get to enjoy a foreigner’s admiration toward beautiful Tuscan scenery and the Italian high fashion glamour, and I am always down for some excessive romanticization.
House of Gucci doesn’t live up to the hype, but it is one of those movies you watch anyway because you want to see your favorite stars all packed in the same world. Besides, this world includes stunning costumes.