House of Gucci is like the fever dream you would have after your boat broke down and you’d got stuck in the Italy section of Disneyland’s It’s a Small World ride for a whole day, before returning home and falling asleep in front of a bad true murder documentary on Netflix. It is cliched and sensationalist like the latter and clumsy and borderline offensive in it’s depiction of those that come from the central Mediterranean country like the former.
The reviews seem to have been a little mixed, with some saying it is terrible and others saying it is great. As it is, they are all correct. If it is taken as a deliberately cheesy and kitsch dark comedy then it is quite a lot of fun. If though, it is supposed to be a serious examination of what drives people to betrayal and the selfish destruction of those close to them, which I fear is the case, then it is awful. The surviving members of the Gucci family has described it as ‘painful and insulting’ and no wonder, because it is.
Ridley Scott has never been restrained as a director but, and his previous film The Last Duel is evidence of this too, he seems to have lost any sense of subtlety whatsoever. Hollywood has already committed many crimes against Italians, typically showing them as either mobsters or pizza chefs, but the accents here would make Dick Van Dyke, Keanu Reeves and Sean Connery cringe, when the cast remember to do them. I can only assume the voice coaches were the Mario brothers. Don’t even get my started on Jared Leto who here gives method actors a bad name. I worry that one day he is going to go so deep into a character that we may lose him forever.
It is long as well, I almost wished someone would have shot me by the end too. It being two hours forty is not a problem in itself but it drags and even with this running time the pacing is all off. It spends well over an hour dissecting what kind of woman would marry and manipulate for wealth but no time at all on what would make someone turn murderous.
Even with all of this though, I can’t tell you that I didn’t enjoy it. The whole cast play it with such conviction and her voice work notwithstanding Lady Gaga is very good. There is intrigue in how the story plays out and while I am sympathetic to the relations of those involved, it is inevitable that someone was going to write a book and make a film about people who do these kinds of things to each other. As you might expect, the costumes are amazing too. My favourite is the all in one ruby ski suit but there are plenty of contenders, on the men and the women.
The Ripley Factor:
So this is the director who gave us Ellen Ripley in the first place, Thelma and Louise too. His grasp of feminism seems to be slipping though. I know that a film about Patrizia Gucci was never going to have a great female role model at the heart of it and few of the characters come off well (Tom Ford maybe) but there is some mild yet unnecessary and gender unbalanced nudity and it doesn’t feel respectful to its lead character. I am sure there were ways of doing this without leaning so much into the unhinged and immoral femme fatale stereotype.