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House of Gucci Movie Review

House of Gucci (2021) movie poster House of Gucci

Theatrical Release: November 24, 2021

Running Time: 158 Minutes

Rating: R

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Becky Johnston (story & screenplay); Roberto Bentivegna (screenplay); Sara Gay Forden (book)

Cast: Lady Gaga (Patrizia Reggiani), Adam Driver (Maurizio Gucci), Jared Leto (Paolo Gucci), Jeremy Irons (Rodolfo Gucci), Salma Hayek (Giuseppina "Pina" Auriemma), Al Pacino (Aldo Gucci), Jack Huston (Domenico De Sole), Reeve Carney (Tom Ford), Camille Cottin (Paola Franchi), VIncent Riotta (Fernando Reggiani)


There is really no figuring Ridley Scott out. Most filmmakers make a certain type of movie again and again. His brother Tony made slick star-driven action vehicles. Spielberg generally makes grand adventures and, more recently, historical dramas. Christopher Nolan makes thinking thrillers. Ridley, on the other hand, has made all of these and everything in between in a directing career that spans nearly fifty years.
Just when you think you've got the elder Scott pigeonholed based on multiples (like the futuristic thrill rides Alien and Blade Runner or the historical epics Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), he'll go and make something you'd never have guessed he had in him, like Thelma & Louise or Matchstick Men.

Barely a month after his relevant historical tale The Last Duel opened to good reviews and bad ticket sales, and a week before his 84th birthday, the Brit returns to the 20th century true crime drama mold he previously tackled on 2007's American Gangster and 2017's All the Money in the World. House of Gucci assembles impressive star power to tell the story of the family behind the Italian luxury fashion brand that celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Adapting Sara Gay Forden's 2001 book, the screenplay by Becky Johnston (The Prince of Tides, Seven Years of Tibet) and newcomer Roberto Bentivegna opens in the early 1970s with Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) setting her targets on Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). Gangly and polite, Maurizio is the heir to the Gucci empire and a young man of considerable wealth though little involvement in the family's fashion business. Patrizia is a receptionist at her family's car service business. Maurizio's father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) does not approve of the relationship, identifying Patrizia as a social climber, a view the film seems to share. Rather than listen to his father, the smitten Maurizio moves out and marries the ambitious Patrizia.

It takes Rodolfo's older brother Aldo (Al Pacino) to smooth things over between Maurizio and his family. Eventually, they are brought into the fold and into key roles. The family business is defined by intrigue and conspiracy. Aldo's son Paolo (Jared Leto), whose bold, colorful designs inspire little faith in the family, functions as something of a pawn between the warring parties as legal issues arise.

The movie balances the machinations of this cutthroat fashion empire with an intimate look at Maurizio and Patrizia's inevitably doomed marriage, which grows contentious in a hurry and shows no sign of reconciliation.

Jared Leto, Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, and Al Pacino play members of the Gucci family in "House of Gucci," Ridley Scott's compelling true crime drama.

House of Gucci is a big movie with big performances and big themes. It's far more interesting and more polished than Scott's prior foray into crimes involving the rich and famous, the movie about the Getty kidnapping whose biggest story became the downright unbelievable eleventh hour replacement of the disgraced Kevin Spacey by Christopher Plummer, a green screen turn that earned the Canadian actor the final Oscar nomination of his long, illustrious career.

Arriving the day before Thanksgiving to a good amount of buzz and anticipation, House of Gucci should command some Academy Award attention too, so long as it attracts a bigger audience than Scott's other fall movie did. The most likely target for recognition is Leto, who takes evident delight in disappearing in the juicy and magnetic role of Paolo. Once widely respected as one of the great talents of Generation X,
Leto's reputation seems to have taken a dive with his Suicide Squad take on the Joker, an aggressive turn that no one would rank among Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix's bookending Oscar-winning portrayals of the same Batman villain. Leto's work here serves as a reminder of his gifts and a demonstration of his range, as a bald, portly middle-aged Italian you're more likely to mistake for a newly-discovered pizzeria owner than the alumnus of Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, and "My So-Called Life."

Other cast members sink their teeth into their roles, from old pros Irons and Pacino to Driver in his least loathsome turn of the year. In her second major film role, Gaga has arguably the juiciest role of all and it seems likely she'll pick up another Best Actress nomination for the Academy three years after A Star Is Born.

House of Gucci appears destined to divide critics and moviegoers, which is something we can welcome, having not had a movie do that on a large scale since before the pandemic. The closest we got to a polarizing award season contender last year was David Fincher's Mank and that Netflix release was too specific to Old Hollywood to garner much interest or sentiment either way. House of Gucci feels like it could have been a season of "American Crime Story" and it might very well have fueled more conversations that way. But I think a long, bold, and stylish flick like this is something we need in theaters and throughout the awards season, a deliberate alternative to other perceived frontrunners like the technically splendid yet narratively incomplete Dune, the unassailable crowdpleaser King Richard, and Kenneth Branagh's corny yet personal Belfast. More than any of those, Gucci invites spirited debate and a wide range of opinions on the countless choices made within from the accents to the soundtrack full of prominent needle drops.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: A Journal for Jordan Belfast West Side Story The Tragedy of Macbeth
Directed by Ridley Scott: All the Money in the World The Last Duel
Lady Gaga: A Star Is Born (2018) | Adam Driver: Marriage Story

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Reviewed November 24, 2021.

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