I was excited to see House of Gucci. I was expecting a campy take on an intriguing story, delivered by a seasoned director and stacked cast. Instead, I was met with a film that couldn’t seem to make up its mind; lacking sufficient comedic quality to make it camp and also the required depth to tip it over into the realm of pure drama. House of Gucci is by no means a bad film. I certainly enjoyed myself throughout, but I must confess my disappointment; the film is somewhat sterile, rather than a truly vibrant or memorable tale of decadence and murder.
The late 20th century setting and colourful characters are brought to life through solid direction and charismatic performances. The score throughout is also excellent and sweeping shots of huge lakeside mansions and set piece fashion shows are well-constructed. Lady Gaga is certainly the film’s standout. Her portrayal of Patrizia Reggiani is entertaining, engrossing and importantly human – she avoids becoming cartoonish and while the accents of her co-stars are sometimes suspect, it is clear that Gaga has taken time on hers.
The film is certainly strongest in the first half. The focus is on the early relationship between Patrizia, and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) is handled well, adding depth to each character and introducing the audience to the farcical world of the Gucci family from the outside. Driver’s subtle, bookish performance compliments the charisma of Gaga and the way in which we are introduced to the rest of the cast through them adds resonance to their relationship.
The film descends into a series of sketch-like set piece scenes that skim over proper character development
My main problem with House of Gucci was its pacing. Its 158-minute run time is not a problem, but that run time has to be used properly and it sadly is not. After the strong first half, the film descends into a series of sketch-like set piece scenes that skim over proper character development. The changes to character that manifest are not shocking but happen very fast for a film that certainly has the time to show more subtly. There are also issues with point of view. Particularly in its second half, House of Gucci was in dire need of a focal point, drifting between its characters without really settling one. Jared Leto’s cartoonish turn as Paolo Gucci is also ridiculous and he appears more as a super Mario impression than a well-rounded character, even if the impression itself is funny at points.
The immaculate suites and picturesque scenery sterilised the world and its inhabitants
The film also lacks adequate depth overall. I was left feeling that I had only seen a façade of the story and had not properly gotten inside the story’s world or characters. The immaculate suites and picturesque scenery sterilised the world and its inhabitants. The lack of proper development of many of its peripheral characters exacerbated this, meaning I felt at points that Maurizio and Patrizia were living in a pantomime. There was a conflict between camp comedy and godfather like drama, with the film having aspects of both but settling on neither.
House of Gucci is sadly underwhelming. There is much to enjoy here, and my disappointment is perhaps more due to expecting a film that it simply isn’t. If you are expecting the film that is presented in its trailers you will be disappointed, but if you go in with an open mind it is likely that you will see a totally different film than the one I was disappointed by.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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