Film Review: House of Gucci (2021)

On the cusp of the 70’s and 80’s, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) meets and quickly falls for Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a local party. Maurizio is, of course, a member of the extremely wealthy Gucci family, known for their high-class luxury fashion house. Given his status, Maurizio’s father is wary of Patrizia as sparks fly between the duo, believing she is simply after the family fortune. 

Despite his father’s threat of disownment, Maurizio chooses his love for Patrizio over the family fortune; he joins the Reggiani family’s trucking company as an employee, and the pair get married. When Patrizia becomes pregnant, she sees an opportunity for Maurizio to reconcile with his father, and the pair inevitably get dragged back into the drama of the Gucci family. 

Each actor in this ensemble cast brings something unique to the table. Unfortunately, this amalgamation of performances watches less like a community potluck and more like a dysfunctional family’s Thanksgiving. The characters are so wildly different that the chemistry between the cast is fleeting at best; everybody is on their own wavelength. 

Lady Gaga and Adam Driver both deliver sympathetic and committed performances, with the former effectively riding the line between intensity and camp, and the latter bringing plenty of nuance. Then you have Salma Hayek as a tarot card reader that really serves only as an extension of Patrizia’s suspicions, and Al Pacino playing a character I love because they’re played by Al Pacino. 

Then… you have Jared Leto (a sentence that you could say about any movie he stars in for all the right AND wrong reasons). I mean… if nothing else, Leto has proven to deliver the most discussionary performance of the year; the guy won a Golden Raspberry but was also an Oscar contender for a while there. He is SO eccentric here, and I can’t quite figure out if he intended his role to be the comedic gold that ultimately got spit out onto the screen. He’s like a lava lamp (bear with me) — amusing for a bit, but it’s not long before you begin to question the practicality. If nothing else, Leto’s role gives me an excuse to add a whole extra paragraph to my review. 

But it IS the more offbeat performances that give House of Gucci its most entertaining moments, even if they don’t always jive with the tone of the film. But for the most part, that’s less of a problem with the acting and more with the presentation; this film is sorely lacking any stylistic sensibility. It’s unusual for a Ridley Scott-helmed project to feel so bland, but the film doesn’t really do much for the glamorous and pompous feel you’d expect from a Gucci family biopic.

Still, the actual story itself is pretty interesting, but ultimately falls victim to pacing issues with its beefed-out runtime. It tries and fails to be a contemporary Scorsese-esque crime epic — it has the ambition but not the thrills. There are plenty of really interesting subplots at play, but also a lot of overshadowing sloggy story additions. Telling an edited but compelling story will always be better than telling every last detail… otherwise it feels like you’re just watching a Wikipedia article being acted out. 

The latter of Ridley Scott’s two 2021 releases is also the lesser. Unfortunately, House of Gucci doesn’t hold a candle to the superior The Last Duel, and so I was fairly disappointed by it. I liked the performances (for the most part) and the story itself is an interesting and entertaining one to tell, but those little rays of sunshine are overshadowed by a bland presentation and a slog of a runtime. 

Overall rating: 4/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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