“House of Gucci”: A Supernova of Mediocrity


Source: Mauxa

Will Teare

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, and Jeremy Irons 

Release Date: Nov 24, 2021

Rating: 3/5

For a drama, you go to see it for the performances and the story. In a comedy, you go for the laughs. You go for the larger-than-life people portrayed by movie stars but brought down to a relatable level in a biopic. We get a peek behind the lavish curtain these people have. But for Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, you go for all of those things…but also not at all. 

House of Gucci, first and foremost, is a performative showcase of excess. We follow the lives of the Gucci family primarily through the eyes of Patricia Reggiani(Gaga) during her turbulent marriage to the heir of the Gucci throne, Maurizio Gucci(Driver). Reggiani struggles to fit in, resorting to betrayal, the dismantling of the Gucci empire, and the murder of her own husband. 

To begin a detailed discussion of House of Gucci, forget about the movie, forget about the filmmaker, and forget about the story. Instead, we must talk about these performances because, to put it simply, they’re absolutely bonkers.

Jared Leto delivers easily the most deranged, unhinged, and downright insane performance I may have ever seen in a modern Hollywood production (and I’ve seen him play The Joker, in case you think I’ve forgotten to take that into account). Leto plays Paolo, son of Aldo Gucci(Pacino). Paolo is the pathetic outcast of the Gucci family, and Leto plays him like he’s a Super Mario Brother. Every word is preceded by an “-a” (i.e., “it’s a-me, Mario!”) and boasts a fat suit, mustache, bald cap, and about 3 pounds of makeup. Leto isn’t a character; he’s a caricature. However, he is easily the most entertaining part of the whole movie. I don’t imagine coming back to the film. Still, you better believe I will be showing the “Paolo Gucci compilation” YouTube video to anyone willing to see it for the next decade. I give Leto a paragraph about his performance when in reality, I could be writing an entire essay on his turn as the disgraced Paolo Gucci. 

Adam Driver plays a bookish Maurizio Gucci, studying to be a lawyer, and wants no part of the Gucci throne he will someday inherit. Both the actor and the film are very aware of the physical stature of Adam Driver. Driver isn’t exactly the most dignified of people and can play a specific small, loser type man (à la Logan Lucky and Frances Ha). But Driver can use his height and acting abilities to his advantage and tap into this “raw, untamed power” as seen in his villainous Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise or in flashes of Marriage Story, for that matter. Driver can display both in the character arc of the crown prince of Gucci, using his height, glasses, and acting abilities to the fullest. Amid the caricatures of Gucci, Driver is relatively the straight man balancing the insanity of the rest of the cast.

Lady Gaga as Reggiani is a little different from everyone else. Rather than playing an over-the-top character, Gaga makes Reggiani “a real person.” Now, the validity of that claim is relatively debatable, given the mediocre Italian accent, the smoking, the clothes, and the general insanity of it all. But it can’t be denied that Gaga is passionate about this role and her performance fits very well in this world of greed and murder. 

To round out the rest of the cast, Jeremy Irons plays the aging Emperor Of Gucci, Rodolfo. Irons is adorned with a fair share of smoking jackets and scarfs to fit the ailing bastion of Gucci. Irons does well here, as he always does, but nothing in particular of note. I never thought I’d say this, Pacino is surprisingly restrained in his role as Rodolfo’s brother, Aldo. Pacino certainly has his moments of rage-filled yelling but is primarily held back. I feel like in a purposefully absurd movie, Pacino not going full-Pacino is a sorely missed opportunity. 

One shining point behind the scenes is the costumes. The costume designer, Janty Yates, had exclusive access to the Gucci archives and used some outfits for the film. Too often do we see a movie about fashion and lack the proper amount of pizazz to match the industry it’s representing. House of Gucci is different and is all the better for it. It defines a landmark company and time in fashion history and does it flawlessly.

The story itself is fun but troubled at times. It’s directed by Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma, and Louise), so the audience is certainly in the hands of a master. Because of that, the actors know what kind of story they’re in. A tale of what wealth and power do to someone in the most over-dramatic way possible that is. At times though, you can’t help but feel it’s tonally inconsistent. Jared Leto seems simultaneously out of place and a perfect fit in a story of love and greed. Then there’s the murder, although pushed way to the end of the film, which is the anticipated conclusion the film has to both build up to and carry. Frankly, it just seemed quite rushed. When you see these neurotic and deranged people, a proper murder seems like a fitting turn of events for Maurizio and Patricia but one that seems awkward in a movie where Jared Leto appears like he’s one minute away from saving Princess Peach and singing That’s Amore. All in all, I couldn’t tell whether it should be a tragedy, drama, or comedy. If it’s a tragedy, I certainly didn’t feel the weight of it. If it’s a drama, they should’ve dialed the lunacy down by a lot. If it’s a comedy, they should’ve made way more of an effort for it to be funny. It’s the dilution of the genre that spirals this movie out of control to the point of it being rendered to mediocrity.