House of Gucci is an excessive film for better and for worse, an unbridled work in which the director, Ridley Scott, and the actors give their all, but in which the script lags far behind, narrating the facts but forgetting to delve into the motivations behind them, and in which its cast seems, at times, to be in different films, the clearest example being an unrecognisable Jared Leto with a caricatured character that does not combine well with the naturalness of, for example, an Adam Driver.
The big problem with House of Gucci is the tone, not being very clear whether it is a serious epic melodrama or a slapstick opera, as if at times it wanted to be Coppola‘s The Godfather and, at others, Adam McKay‘s Vice. I get the impression that Leto thinks he’s in the latter, while the rest of the cast thinks he’s in the former. Lady Gaga, who once again demonstrates enormous strength in her performance, is not so clear, her performance is very good but the Italian accent sounds forced. The only one who always seems to be in the right tone is Al Pacino, who is reigniting the laurels of the past.
The story is fascinating, a woman, Patrizia Reggiani, marries a member of the Gucci family, Maurizio, and although they start out poor but happy, with modest and innocent ambitions, they will end up getting into the power game to run the company as they please, all the while their marriage goes down the drain, ending with a murder. The problem is that the story is real and fascinating in itself, but this is a film and it cries out for a convincing arc in its characters and their motivations. That’s where the film fails.
The big problem with House of Gucci is the tone, not being clear whether it is a serious epic melodrama or a slapstick opera.
House of Gucci is well presented, with a fairly interesting first hour, but you can tell it hasn’t done its job properly when we see the character of Maurizio, played by Driver, go from adoration for his wife to outright contempt with little justification. Nor do we fully understand her motives at the end – is she scornful or longing for wealth? Nothing is quite clear in a film that moves from the gravity of certain situations to the mocking caricature of Leto’s character, who plays Maurizio’s cousin Paolo. A few good laughs wouldn’t hurt, if the other actors also thought they were in an ironic comedy…
The film is at times as literal as a Wikipedia page, but it forgets that it is a work of fiction, and this tendency to literalism works against it. The viewer will be fascinated by the convoluted and extravagant story that House of Gucci presents, as well as how it is told and acted, but will not understand the motivations of the characters, in a script more concerned with inserting lapidary phrases (I had no idea I married a monster / You didn’t, you married a Gucci) than explaining its protagonists or turning them into anything more than literal puppets.