WHAT I LIKED: In many ways, because Becky Johnson and Roberto Bentivegna's 'House of Gucci,' follows a rich, corrupt Italian family fighting for power and wealth through a twisty web of tax avoidance, backstabbing and supposed codes of honour, it's a film bound by the same potential trappings and appeals as a gangster movie.
At their best, such films tend to focus on the conflicts within the characters at the centre of the carnage, and the pair at the heart of this are certainly given some attention. Son of Gucci Maurizio (Adam Driver) starts out not particularly caring about the business, especially after falling in love with the enigmatic Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). But somehow he eventually comes to care about it above all else once Patrizia gets swept up in the glamour of the potential lifestyle and starts making moves to have him take control. She's clearly an audacious character with a fire in her belly who's had to fight for everything in her life, and it's certainly engaging seeing her and the quieter, restrained Maurizio entwine and change together, particularly when the performances are so convincing and contrasting.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: But ultimately, their conflicts are allowed very little of the development they need for you to truly empathise with them, as the film also falls victim to many of the potential gangster movie shortfalls.
On the one hand, there's just an awful lot of plot to get through. We have to sit and watch countless conversations between the Gucci owners (Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons) and their sons Marizio and Paolo (Jared Leto) about the future of the brand and their profit woes, but we're never given a reason to care about any of it beyond the fact it all seems to be a competition to see how ridiculously the cast members can overreact their Italian-accented lines. Even the scenes between the central pair become increasingly dominated by business talk, and though Driver and Gaga do their best to add humanity to the drama, we rarely get the room to understand their emotional motivations.
That's also partly thanks to the fact that director Ridley Scott spends so much time indulging in the lure of its family's dripping wealth and culture too. In the opening for example, we're expected to believe in the central romance in just a few short scenes, and that becomes a problem when the camera spends its time observing as many Martinis, cigarettes, fancy cars and palatial villas as it does faces. And that's equally emphasised by the fact it's all whisked along by soundtrack choices that even Martin Scorsese might have deemed out of place and a little bit much.
Ultimately, that complicated plot and Scott's male-gaze obsession with hammy performances and the lure of the world he's created get in the way of two very interesting character arcs. If they'd been given more development, this would be one great gangster film. As it stands, it largely misses the mark, so perhaps Ridley should stop moaning about "millennials," and their obsession with instant gratification and short attention spans, and focus on his own shortfalls in that regard.
VERDICT: As is so often the case with gangster films, 'House of Gucci,' sees fascinating and engaging central character journeys and their great performances overwhelmed by an obsession with heavy plotting and over-indulgent world building.