Hallowed be thy surname: ‘House of Gucci’ just cannot make it work

Poster+for+House+of+Gucci+showing+the+high-profile+cast+starring+in+the+film.

Morgan Ray

Poster for “House of Gucci” showing the high-profile cast starring in the film.

by Morgan Ray, Staff Writer

*WARNING: FATHER, SON AND MODERATE SPOILERS*

When fashion house scion Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) marries Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), they’re the next high flying couple of haute couture. But business and pleasure can prove to be an explosive combination…a tragic lesson the Gucci family learns all too soon.

Based on Sara Gay Forden’s nonfiction book of the same name, “House of Gucci” (Ridley Scott’s second film of the year after “The Last Duel”) dramatizes the 1995 Gucci assassination that changed the course of the fashion dynasty, or at least that’s what it thinks it is.

“House of Gucci” desperately wants to be a campy “Barry Lyndon”-esque tale; an outsized outsider trying to elevate themselves into a world of unimaginable status, but stunted by their ambition and greed. It’s a fascinating and doable approach, but it just can’t contain everything. The two hour and 44 minute runtime should’ve been the first red (and green) flag. 

The film’s tone is astonishingly uneven: it starts (and seems to have been marketed) as a true crime thriller, then it becomes a corporate drama, or has it been a satire all along? When it isn’t distracted by its own spectacle, “House of Gucci” bogs itself down trying to give audiences a crash course in Gucci 101; yes, we know the fall/winter ‘95 collection was legendary, but did we have to halt the entire film for it?  

In addition to the massive liberties taken by the script, it always felt like something was missing; there were still plenty of details that could’ve been added (the Gucci handcuffs!)…and yet plenty of things that could’ve been cut. The disastrous editing only further exposes the holes in the script with its unintentionally hilarious jump cuts (sudden death!) and unwillingness to trim the fat. Was that office sex scene really necessary?

The true meat of the story is not the boardroom machinations, but the central crime. The “whodunnit” format could’ve cut right to the chase and still given us an outsider’s view into all the inner familial drama. There were so many potential suspects, so perhaps that would’ve opened it up to a Rashomon-style approach? Although let’s be honest, no matter the format, the Gucci family was never going to be happy with this film.

Lady Gaga was always positioned as the film’s main selling point, and for good reason. As Patrizia Reggiani, who she plays as the girlboss from hell, she walks (walk, fashion baby) off with the entire film. She knows exactly what kind of movie she’s in, whatever it is. Gaga and Adam Driver play off of each other so well; their toxic extrovert/introvert dynamic almost makes the film bearable. It’s a shame the rest of it wasn’t up to their level.

Regarding the other performances, they’re either giving too little or too much; Salma Hayek’s Pina is underutilized while Jared Leto, in an overblown attempt to court another Oscar, renders Paolo Gucci into a walking version of the “Spaghet” meme. And that’s without mentioning those faux Italian accents that pack more ham than a deli!

As if “House of Gucci” wasn’t over-indulgent enough, the soundtrack is littered with obvious needle drops. David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” during a post-divorce montage? Groundbreaking. It’s less of a mood-setter/story progressor and more like the music supervisor flexing their budget.

On the upside, expect a lot of reaction videos and quotes to come out of this movie, i.e. “I’M DEAD! I’M DEAD!”, “OUR name, sweetie.” and the instantly iconic “Father, Son and House of Gucci.”

“House of Gucci” is the definition of “doing too much.” It doesn’t know whether it wants to be Oscar bait or a forced bid for “camp classic” status. Time and the Internet may prove this reviewer wrong on the camp factor, but not even a stacked cast can save this fashion disaster from knock-off accents, a poorly tailored script and an uneven edit. Guess the two interlocking Gs stand for “Good Grief.”

3/10

Alternatives: Read Sara Gay Forden’s “The House of Gucci”, listen to season 21 of “Even The Rich” or rewatch “Succession.”