Review: House of Gucci

Given that the elaborate set piece which sets the extravagant mood for this highly stylized retelling of the fall of the Gucci fashion brand is a wedding where everyone sports comically distinctive Italian accents, it’s tempting to approach Ridley Scott’s latest blockbuster as his inevitable tribute to The Godfather, but while the similarities don’t end there (intrafamily intrigue! organizational criminal intent! professional hit men!), the juxtaposition of thriller elements with comical characterizations that may or may not be inadvertent keeps the viewer off-balance. Does it deserve that coveted imprimatur of a “movie that’s so bad it’s good”?

Probably not, because it isn’t that bad, just confused. The aforementioned caricatures of the various members of the Gucci clan are compromised somewhat by Lady Gaga’s turn as the outsider/spoiler of this epic, Patrizia Reggiani, a social climber from a family that, at the end of the 1960s, just recently clawed its way out of the working class. Patrizia’s skillful if somewhat trite seduction of the heir-apparent to the House of Gucci, Maurizio (Adam Driver), is the lip-smacking hors d’oeuvre that sets the irresistible tone, and Gaga acts her ass off, thus also setting an impossible bar for the rest of the all-star cast—almost all Oscar-winning thesps-with-a-capital-T—that none, understanding the thrust of the script, endeavors to reach. At the dynastic head of this troupe, both as characters and actors, we have Al Pacino as Rodolfo, Maurizio’s father, Gucci’s CEO, and an actual actor by profession, and Jeremy Irons as Aldo, the creative brains of this particular generation who actually talks Maurizio into joining the family business. Initially, Maurizio wants nothing to do with shoes and bags and dresses, preferring to make his way in the world of business on his own. But then Patrizia enters and convinces him that shoes and bags and dresses are the way to go.

The problem is that Maurizio isn’t satisfied to sit at the top of the empire and rake in cash. He wants to make a difference, even if it’s not a difference the rest of family appreciates, and with his wife’s help and encouragement, he turns away from the cheap knock-offs that have allowed the extended family to cruise on their name only. This decision alienates Aldo, who feels betrayed, and sets in motion a game of legal hopscotch that eventually snares the family in an international investigation into racketeering and tax dodging. None of this is served particularly well by Becky Johnston’s and Robert Bentivegna’s script, which is more concerned with Patrizia’s desperation as the family fortune is put in peril, as well as her suspicions, which turn out to be well-founded, that Maurizio is cheating on her. Enter Salma Hayek as a fortune-teller who helps Patrizia secure some Goon-level “mechanics” to take out Maurizio, and you get what should have been a proper payoff to the kind of social comedy that Adam McKay specializes in. Scott obviously thinks he’s getting what he paid for, but the actors work at cross-purposes, none more than Driver, whose typical interiority makes him look like the only person onscreen who’s not in on the joke. His opposite is Jared Leto, confined to interminable layers of makeup, as the black sheep, Paolo, who owns every scene he enters by sheer force of wicked will. Either someone told him he was in a different movie, or he decided he’d just have as much fun as possible because no way will he ever win another Oscar. Ironically, he may actually end up with one here. That’s how wacky a production it is.

Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Shinjuku Walf 9 (03-5369-4955), Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024).

House of Gucci home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

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