Thursday, November 25, 2021

Film: House of Gucci

House of Gucci (c) MGM

Film: House of Gucci 
In Cinemas 

Premise: At one point in the film, Patrizia Gucci (Lady Gaga) gives us the meme-able quote as she crosses herself and says “Father, Son and House of Gucci.” Sure, it’s a campy line and Gaga plays it perfectly, but it is also an apt summation of the film. Starting in the mid-seventies when Patrizia meets the heir of the Gucci fortune and business, Maurizio (Adam Driver), at a disco party and ends with the threat of bankruptcy (both moral and financial) more than a decade later, the movie is really about fathers and sons. Maurizio has a contentious relationship with his father Roldolfo (Jeremy Irons), especially when he announces his intentions to marry Patrizia, whom Roldolfo sees as a gold digger. Maurizo finds more kinship with his Uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), who is the face of the Gucci business. Aldo has a love/hate relationship with his own son, Paolo (Jared Leto), who believes himself to be a fashion designer genius. He is not. How this all shakes out was unfamiliar to me, but let’s just say there’s so much backstabbing in this film, it should have been called “Game of Gucci.” 

My Take: When the poster for “House of Gucci” was first released, how was I to know that all the spoilers for the film were right there. (This is the full cast, blue poster version which you can find online.)  Adam Driver looks stoic but so bored as Maurizio, the prodigal son who never wanted to be part of the empire until he suddenly does. Jeremy Irons looks like he was photoshopped into the poster as Maurizio’s father, which is appropriate as he barely makes any impression in the film. Al Pacino looks like he’s going to chew up the scenery, and he does as Uncle Aldo, but he is totally upstaged by the unrecognizable Jared Leto as Cousin Paolo, so proud of his transformation in the poster that you know his exaggerated acting style will be just as smug and insufferable. All the Italian accents are unbearably cartoony in the film, but Leto’s “mamma mia” choice is the most egregious. The movie is set in Italy so the accented English, while a cinematic necessity, really shouldn’t have been this exaggerated. But what about Lady Gaga, you ask? 

VIP: Lady Gaga. Front and center on the poster is Lady Gaga, looking like Meryl Streep’s character in “Death Becomes Her” with her head on backwards (look at her arms), and yet she holds our attention, summoning all the charismatic power of her pop star camp that blows the rest of the toxic masculinity out of the water. As Patrizia, who marries into this family but is constantly told she will never be a true Gucci, Gaga is in full Italian soap opera mode, as this movie should have been. If only the men were in her movie instead of the other way around. Director Ridley Scott makes the grave mistake of sidelining her for a good part of the second half of the movie which robs it of its only energetic pulse. That lost potential of “House of Gucci” makes the production, as someone says of Cousin Paolo’s wrongheaded fashion line, “a triumph of mediocrity.”

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