by Sarah Cook
House of Gucci released one of the best trailers of the year. Set to a thumping eighties soundtrack, and boasting outrageous accents and iconic lines, it teased a triumphant, camp, and outrageous journey.
The film itself is much more of a slog; failing to capture the highs of its marketing campaign and languishing in a stuffy drama that is quite dull in the end.
House of Gucci focuses on the rise and fall of one of the most famous fashion houses. It centres primarily on Maurizio Gucci and his wife Patrizia as they challenge the status quo of Gucci.
The acting is the main draw here, for better and for worse. Lady Gaga and Jared Leto are two sides of the same coin. Both are most definitely caricatures of the real-life people they were charged with playing. Gaga is a fine performer, if albeit over-the-top, and is so wonderful watchable. In fact, she is so captivating, menacing, and brilliant that when she isn’t on the screen, you miss her.
Leto is as over-the-top as Gaga but lacks the sincerity to be enjoyable. As seedy and silly as Aldo is, Leto’s performance lacks integrity and heart. In fact, a character actor such as Bill Camp or Tracey Letts would be much suited for this role.
Adam Driver, Al Pacino, and Jeremy Irons are in a different film than Gaga and Leto but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They somewhat ground the film in realism, particularly Driver who showcases the multiple facets of Maurizio. He changes from an unsung hero to a quite vicious villain to a troubled businessman with such ease. Driver is never gaudy or gauche, instead, he is succinct and as subtle as ever.
The problem is that when the juicy lines, those popularised by the campy trailers, pass, House of Gucci winds up being quite dry. The film itself doesn’t know what it wants to be, a campy epic or a serious drama. It spends the first hour firmly in the former then deviates dully into the latter, as though it remembered it was supposed to be a prestigious drama. By restraining itself, the film sucks out all the joy from the set-up. So much so that when the climactic finale happens, it happens with a lowly ‘put’ and not the big bang it needs, or well, promises.
House of Gucci is shot nicely, but it is cold and disjointed. Ridley Scott never allows us to appreciate the fashion or the clothes that should be the cornerstone of the film. Think of how Phantom Thread appreciates the fine garments and fabrics whilst also depicting a devious and delicious relationship at the core of it. House of Gucci has fantastic costumes but we aren’t allowed to appreciate them.
I swear this is an important point, but I’ve been sober for about two months now. I’ve had a few wobbles but genuinely have been quite good. I haven’t needed booze. However, watching House of Gucci, with all its glitz and excess then sloth and desiccation, I hankered for a drink. Perhaps to water down the drier moments, or to actually enjoy Leto’s hammy, exaggerated behaviour, but to definitely add a bit of a buzz to a film that so desperately needs it.
House of Gucci is fine – which winds up being its biggest crime.
House of Gucci is out in cinemas now!