A film inspired by a true story about a family run business with fashion, deceit, infidelity and murder for ingredients, headlined by talents such as Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and captained by Ridley Scott should make for a compelling watch, right? House of Gucci falls short of being that when you consider the names attached. At 2 hours 30 minutes, with a linear structure, Scott does little to experiment with the material at hand, giving us a straightforward soap opera-esque narrative.
The plot of House of Gucci revolves around Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) who meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a friend's party, and later 'accidentally' makes sure she bumps into him again and ensures that he takes her out on a date. Their intense romance ends with them saying 'I do' at a palatial church cut to George Michael's track Faith. But Maurizio's dad Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) won't bless the wedding because he thinks Patrizia is just a gold-digger, 'f*ck her, but don't marry her,' is his advice, which Gucci Jr doesn't heed to.
Luckily, Maurizio's uncle Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino) takes the newly wed Maurizio and Patrizia under his wings, putting them in charge of his store in New York, since he's openly dismissive of his own son Paolo's (Jared Leto) competence. However, it's Patrizia who takes charge of her husband's business interests and drives him to take over the family enterprise by even tricking his own uncle and cousin to part with their shares. Eventually, a successful Maurizio's personal interest moves on to the beautiful Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin), which infuriates Patrizia, who hires a hitman to kill him.
As I said, the story of House of Gucci plays out like a regular soap opera and the problem is that Scott doesn't treat it any better. The narrative is built in a way that you don't invest in either Patrizia or Maurizio as a viewer. You are just witness to the going ons in their lives without emotionally relating to any character in particular. The professional deceit doesn't surprise, the familial conflicts don't matter and the marital discord doesn't hurt. Everyone talks in over-accented Italian English which makes you wonder why they didn't make the film in Italian in the first place.
Lady Gaga as Patrizia delivers the most memorable performance amongst the cast as the svelte ambitious go-getter who eventually succumbs to jealousy and despair. Adam Driver is restrained, perhaps too restrained to make an impression. Al Pacino is pitch perfect as the loud, garrulous uncle who's deceived of his rightful share in his own company, while Jared Leto is oh so over-the-top.
If we could get the writers of Succession to rework the material from Sara Gay Forden's book and let Scott have a go at it again, maybe there will be much more to cheer about.
Our Rating: 2.5 out of 5