There is no doubt that the events portrayed in the new film House of Gucci are ones with inherent drama, as they depict the decades-long power struggle among members of the Gucci family. But the film, directed by Ridley Scott and written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Benivegna, often veers into unintentional comedy, begging the question of whether the filmmakers knew the type of movie they actually wanted to make.
The film centers on Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), who, after meeting Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party, slowly but surely worms her way into his life. Maurizio is reluctant to be part of the iconic family brand, run by his uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) and father, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), but Patrizia and Aldo are able to pull him back into the fold.
The story goes on to detail how each person, including Aldo’s son Paolo (Jared Leto), worked with or against the others for control of the company. Patrizia, as an outsider, is viewed with suspicion almost from the beginning. She does her best to overcome those misgivings, offering up what she believes are ideas that will take the company to the next level.
Succession this is not, though. Scott and the writers have trouble making the machinations of the various family members all that interesting. The story is surprisingly straightforward, but it also seems to fast-forward in odd ways. For much of the film, Maurizio seems disinterested in anything to do with the business … until all of a sudden he is. Likewise, whether Patrizia is a money-grubbing, power-hungry person or merely a devoted wife depends on the scene she’s in.
Most importantly, the filmmakers never truly sell the enmity between the different factions of the family. The plot progresses through a slew of barely connected scenes, not ones that naturally flow from one to the next, making it difficult to understand why any of the main characters reach the emotional points they do. For a film that ends the way it does — no spoilers for anyone not versed in Gucci history — there’s a distinct lack of a propelling force to the plot.
Also strange is the film’s use of music. The filmmakers include plenty of popular songs, especially from the 1980s, but many of the songs don’t seem the fit the scenes to which they’re attached. They also let several of the songs play much longer than is typical in a film, to the point where it’s fair to wonder whether the songs are supposed to provide emphasis for certain scenes or they’re trying to make a weird kind of music video.
For all of the movie’s faults, it’s still fun to watch each of these actors at work. Fears over Lady Gaga’s accent work are unfounded, and she remains interesting throughout. Driver and Irons are consummate professionals who often do a lot with just a little. Pacino and Leto are the over-the-top types, and so even when their level of intensity doesn’t seem to match the scene, you can enjoy them for giving it everything they’ve got.
House of Gucci is not the type of movie it claims to be, which is a drama/crime thriller, and if you watch it as such, you’ll be disappointed. However, if viewers embrace the campiness that inadvertently resulted, maybe it’ll enjoy a nice run as a midnight movie.
House of Gucci opens in theaters on November 24.