Sunday, July 10, 2022

House of Gucci

Movie Name:
House of Gucci
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Jack Huston, Reeve Carney, Camille Cottin, Youssef Kerkour, Vincenzo Tanassi
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
The prolific Ridley Scott continues his unparalleled output, this time around focusing on a dramatic series of real life events which took place surrounding one of the most famous fashion houses in the world. The film focuses its attention on Patrizia Reggiani, a young woman who works for her stepfather's trucking and distribution business (in the early 70s). One night while partying, she meets the slightly shier Maurizio Gucci, and they soon become infatuated with each other. As their relationship evolves, Maurizio's father warns him she may only be interested in their wealth and name, and threatens to disinherit him if he pursues the relationship. Maurizio who is studying to become a lawyer dismisses his father's warnings, and proposes marriage. He cuts ties with his family and starts working for the Reggiani's trucking company. Patrizia soon gets pregnant and with the assistance of Maurizio's uncle, Aldo, manages to get Maurizio to reconcile with his father before his passing. She also starts influencing Maurizio to take more ownership in the dealings of the Gucci house, which has mostly been handled by his uncle Aldo. Aldo's son Paolo, who is an aspiring Fashion Designer, also has a stake in the business, and Patrizia's goal is to phase them out of the business. Patrizia slowly weaves a web of lies between these family members, hoping to push both Aldo and Paolo out of the business, in her longing for power. However her machinations become increasingly grating to Maurizio, who eventually starts an affair, and soon seeks a divorce. Patrizia however has other plans for herself and for her quest for power. 
With a storyline as potboiler inspired as the one that is briefly summarized above, one would expect a tragic story of lust for power, mixed with over the top fashion and opulence, with dashes of high court drama (particularly since most of this storyline begins in the 70s and continues well into the 80s and 90s). However Ridley Scott merely illustrates the superficial aspect of this story, never really showcasing much of a journey for Patrizia nor for Maurizio. Both lead characters are never more than just a collection of certain details, which manifest themselves in what they wear or in some of their interactions, but that never truly amount to much in terms of probing what their motivations and ambitions actually are (case in point, we learn that Maurizio rides his bike around, which is meant to illustrate how down to Earth he actually is, though we never really learn why that happens). For a film that is well over two hours long, it's surprising how overwhelmingly shallow all the characters definition actually is. Not to mention the epilogue of the narrative itself feels rushed and anti-climatic. Another big issue with the film lies in the casting. While Adam Driver and Al Pacino (who once again brings some humanity and depth to the film), manage to walk away from this film with their unscathed reputations, Lady Gaga registers her character in a series of different tones, ranging from cliched Jersey Housewife to a farcical Lady MacBeth, never truly creating Patrizia as a real person, however flawed she may be (she also registers her character as if she's on a high end soap opera). Jared Leto in his apparent quest to be seen as a chameleon type actor, is so over the top in a distracting way, that he seems to be on a completely different film than everyone else (and with all due respect to this gentleman, he's no Christian Bale nor Joaquin Phoenix). The production team is solid as usual, with the icy cinematography from Dariusz Wolski being a bit surprising, contrasting with the warmth typically associated with Italy and the events being depicted in the storyline itself, with additional highlights going to Harry Gregson-Williams' score and Janty Yates' costumes. A missed opportunity and a forgettable film for everyone involved.