House of Gucci
WHERE TO WATCH:
Now showing in cinemas
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge - and ultimately murder.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Biopics are always a double-edged sword - trying to stay true to facts while satiating an audience's cravings for entertainment can give any director a headache. More so when the family of the subject concerned is as larger-than-life as the Gucci family.
House of Gucci has been swirling around in controversy, particularly around the unflattering depiction of the family and the victimisation of Patrizia Reggiani - convicted of ordering a hit on her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci. Even Tom Ford - the iconic fashion designer that was pivotal in turning the failing fashion brand around in the 90s - criticised the campness and humour imposed on a real-life tragedy.
But from the get-go, it's clear Ridley Scott's interpretation of events is incredibly loosely based on the facts, purely because it is so camp and over-the-top. It would have actually been worse for the depiction of the Gucci family if it didn't have those comedic elements, signalling to the audience to take everything with a pinch of salt. This includes the omission of many key family members, who don't even exist in this film's universe, and sassy dialogue. Instead, the 'bio' part in 'biopic' can be discarded so that you can rather enjoy it for what it is - a scintillating piece of acting brilliance, served with a one-liner smorgasbord that the delectable Lady Gaga could only deliver - and boy did she serve.
The film's events cover the start of Patrizia and Maurizio's romance, their courtship, eventual unapproved marriage, business drama with his uncle Aldo and cousin Paolo, their eventual split, the family's loss of control of the Gucci empire, and finally, Maurizio's assassination.
However, the real star of the show is Patrizia, and our view of the family is skewed through her eyes and interactions with them. Ambitious, confident and conniving - it's not difficult to believe that this woman would steep to such a murderous plot when pushed. While a hint of sympathy wells up when Maurizio divorces her, I do not believe she is ever really painted as a victim. Or rather, Lady Gaga refuses to let her be a victim. The passion and strength of will that envelopes her performance is masterful. Her infinite range continues to astound compared to her other phenomenal performance in A Star is Born. She should do a masterclass in how to deliver one-liners, and she does justice to a great script that will serve as reaction gifs for years to come. In House of Gucci, we are witnessing the birth of a great method actor, and I am certain she will keep astounding us in the future.
Another phenomenal performance came from Al Pacino, reminding us what experience can deliver, and it should bag him another few nominations in the following award season. Aldo could have easily been an over-the-top caricature of an unscrupulous Italian businessman, but Pacino danced around the character with finesse, knowing when to reel in the camp and dial up the emotional drama. When Maurizio betrays him, you can feel it in your soul right there with him.
Unfortunately, however, his talents highlight a stark flaw in House of Gucci - Jared Leto, who devastatingly plays Aldo's son and Maurizio's cousin Paolo. I was laughing hard, but I wasn't laughing with Leto. Every time he came onscreen, you were suddenly thrust out of House of Gucci and into some bizarro land where Leto is in his own separate movie where he's the lead actor. He took the camp and dialled it up to one thousand, worsened by his prosthetics and surrounded by an otherwise good cast, especially Adam Driver, Pacino and Gaga. I can't imagine what Scott's direction was for Leto, or even what Paolo was like in real life, but compared to how everyone else conducted themselves, it's safe to say he must be a director's worst nightmare.
If you can manage to mentally block out the scarring Leto did to this otherwise excellent film, House of Gucci is something a little different to the rest of the cinematic holiday fare. Instead of otherworldly visuals and epic storytelling, the actors are what draw you into this tale of love, money and revenge, even if the facts are loose and the clown runs amok.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: