Adam Driver (Maurizio Gucci) and Lady Gaga (Patrizia Reggiani) in HOUSE OF GUCCI | Courtesy of Fabio Lovino © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
House of Gucci is the story of power struggles within the famous family of fashion. The operatic saga begins in 1978 when a young Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) becomes infatuated with a firebrand of a woman: Patrizia Reggiani (Lada Gaga). The two fall in love and marry. As the years wane on, Patrizia sets her eyes on lofty ambitions for the Gucci company and her role within in. Maurizio, however, remains skeptical that diving deep into the business won’t ultimately result in ruin.
What works in House of Gucci is its caricatured nature. The actual historical events and people are amplified to point of parodical entertainment, which proves engaging. Gaga in particular is a tour de force as she attempts to claw her way into a matriarchal position by any means necessary. She leads a superb ensemble who perform a type of darkly comedic recreation that is never dull—Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci is mesmerizing, although likely polarizing to a certain degree given his cartoonish interpretation of his real-life counterpart. There are worse ways to understand the inner workings of such an iconic empire.
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Audiences who don’t enjoy over-the-top performances, or when creative liberty is taken with events, may not enjoy House of Gucci as much as others. This is not an accurate history lesson. While viewers will gain an understanding for the real headlines and players, a large part of the proceedings are fabricated to create exaggerated conflict or bombastic responses. In addition, House of Gucci often feels like an MTV music video farce. While the music choices by director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) are certainly catchy and period-appropriate, they often feel out of place (like George Michael’s “Faith” during a wedding sequence). As a result, these needle drops can feel slightly out of place.
House of Gucci has style. At times that style is high-end, and other times a bloated gaudy monstrosity. But Scott has such clear intention with his portrayal that it’s hard not appreciate the high-budget stage play full of top-caliber performers. While certainly not for everyone, there’s plenty enjoy here as a guilty pleasure akin to a “trashy” romance novel that promises the allure of steam and scandal from scene one and doesn’t disappoint.