The master of the blockbuster Ridley Scott helms “The House of Gucci,” a true crime portrait of Maurizio and Patrizia Gucci who were the head of the iconic fashion company in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The film has to its credit sweeping cinematography and a fine cast. It is only the story itself that is somewhat lacking. It is derivative, reminiscent of other Italian crime films from Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola. The drama itself feels a bit dispiriting full of selfish and self-absorbed characters. But as this is a portrait of a crime, such illustrations of sociopathic behavior might not be a negative trait.
Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) is a promising young law student with intent to leave the family business of leather goods, shoes and handbags. At a party, Maurizio meets the vivacious, playful and alluring young woman Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). The young man is awkward and nervous. He has a tall ill-fitting gangly physique and big glasses. Patrizia is smitten from the first second. The two develop a playful rapport. Cute affection turns to physical lust. All the more stirring as the Reggiani family is of the working class.
This is the most vivid and riveting portion of the film as it highlights a deep connection reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. The love scene a few minutes later is a sight of savagery. This couple is inseparable, profoundly in love. Maurizio and Patrizia marry, living the charmed life. Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino) gives them a post wedding gift of a penthouse in New York and they go up from there.
Discord ensues when Patrizia mentions that Renaldo, the chronically ill father (Jeremy Irons) and Aldo the patriarch may not have Maurizio‘s best interest at heart. Might they not be patronizing him and stringing him along as he is passive?
Patrizia decides to converse with the ego-centric sycophant Paulo Gucci (Jared Leto) and try to gain the upper hand Leto miraculously all but disappears in this weird unflattering role. His over-the-top portrayal is rife with camp, though it does not offer any progress for stereotypes, and some of his histrionics are akin to the Three Stooges.
Romance goes South when Paulo refuses to sell his company share and Maurizio becomes distant and cold.
Suffice to say, Patrizia drifts to the dark side.
Salma Hayek appears as a driven astrologer who delves in black magic.
The performances by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver are absolutely perfect. Fans of Italian crime stories might be compelled by the usual one-upsmanships, insults, and infidelities, but those who are looking for something reflective and outside the villa will be overstuffed by too much melodramatic mortadella.
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