House of Gucci Review
Set in a world of high fashion and higher opulence, House of Gucci is nothing but beautiful to look at. As a man who once considered being a designer by trade, Scott brings back the same painterly eye that makes so many of his photos a visual delight. Unleashed on the fashion world, the director wallows in the small details, such as how the seamstresses and models dance like puppets among their wealthy benefactors, here rendered as loud as Leto in a thick suit setting glasses of champagne on the catwalks above.
Still, despite all the excesses and propulsive pop song grooves of the 80s, the film feels a bit bare and distant. It is even clinical in its often gray color palette. Which is not to say that the film is disinterested with its ensemble of eccentric characters. The screenplay by Becky Johnson and Roberto Bentivenga thrives on Patrizia’s manipulations and excesses. The finished product does not judge, however, and does not particularly celebrate the cunning of the central character; rather, it observes her as a reality TV producer who is in love with their muse.
In that role, Gaga can be delightful. She plays Patrizia as a regal woman before she has power and yet remains desperate even after gaining that power. Her turn also fits well with Driver’s more introspective counterpoint. Even a so-so Italian accent seems natural and proper, Driver is restrained where Gaga is grandiose. But the film never decides which instinct should dominate their passion play. Driver fits the film’s unsaturated aesthetic, but the rest of the ensemble is asked to cultivate a tone in which Pacino’s standard set chews seem small in comparison.
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Pacino does indeed look like a humble performer when he collaborates in many of his scenes with Leto, who with his bald cap, extravagant mustache and casual suits even SNL. I know there’s been some Oscar buzz for Leto’s turn as Gucci’s black sheep, but honestly, there were more grounded “Italian” line readings in Super Mario Sunshine. That said, such choices bring newfound appreciation to Scott who insists none of his American actors try to make French accents. the last duel.
Likewise, the contrast between the two new Scott photos is fascinating given their close proximity. the last duel is one of the best photos of 2021, and certainly one of the most underrated. But where that film treated sensitive subjects with intelligence and delicacy, House of Gucci takes on potentially garish material and fails to mold it into much of anything. Perhaps if it were a film more in line with Leto’s performance, it could have acted like a soapy kitsch extravaganza, but in its current form the film has the length of one of Scott’s great historical epics, but the instincts of a Deuxmoi- post looking for spills the juiciest tea. Well, by the end of the movie, everything is spilled, but even as a mess, it’s a bit boring.
House of Gucci opens in the US on November 24 and the UK on November 26.