Crime drama “House of Gucci,” based on the true story of the Italian family behind the luxury fashion empire, is a mess of an undertaking at the hands of director Ridley Scott. All of the elements that make up a solid feature narrative are there (corruption, murder, revenge, betrayal), but the bloated excess and across-the-board atrocious performances eclipse the film’s few positive moments.
Telling the shocking, sordid story of humble outsider Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) who marries into the famous family, the film is based on the book by Sara Gay Forden. It spans three decades of the Gucci legacy, making the primary focus the story of Patrizia’s ambition and the subsequent unraveling of the clan’s fashion empire.
The screenplay (adapted by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna) tackles a lot of material in a short amount of time, and the film suffers from long-winded storytelling. A lot of the personal details, life stories, and history of the Gucci family are told. Even with all the intimate specifics, it still feels hollow and impersonal. There are too many irrelevant particulars, especially in the beginning, that explore Patrizia and Maurizio Gucci’s (Adam Driver) early romance. The rest of the film is mostly uninteresting and dull, with lots of talk about business contracts. By the time the juicy stuff starts to happen, the film ends.
The most shocking thing isn’t the for-hire murder plot, but the disastrous performances from the talented, A-List cast. I don’t think any of the actors intended to make audiences laugh out loud at their work in front of the camera, but Jared Leto in particular had me snickering at his train wreck portrayal of Paolo. His cartoonish, idiot caricature turns the movie into one big joke, an unexpectedly campy big screen soap opera. Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Irons, Gaga, and Driver’s work is all brought down as part of Leto’s collateral damage. (I’m not convinced that Gaga is much of an actor anyway, but she definitely stumbles here). At least the makeup is fantastic, and Leto is lucky that he is unrecognizable. I’d want to hide behind a costume if I had given the worst performance of my career, too.
“House of Gucci” doesn’t start with a great story in the first place, so the big screen version isn’t very entertaining. It’s boring, uneven, and tiresome, three elements that will never be in style.