Lady Gaga’s performance as Patrizia Reggiani is the thread that keeps a movie like House of Gucci watchable which at two and a half hours lags a lot before it finally falls under its own shoddy building materials. If there is one good thing you can say about it, at least the streaming services and cable TV didn’t snatch this story up and make it a limited series with at least six episodes about 50 minutes long each.
Lady Gaga turns Patrizia into a Lady MacBeth meets Leona Hemsley with a lust for extreme wealth and extravagance. It’s easy to see how Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) could fall head over heels for her. But it was more like Patrizia aggressively pursuing him, as he was the only child to Rudolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons performing Claus Von Bulow as if he was trying to do a bad Italian accent). Maurizio is also heir to half of the assets to the Gucci fortune. While Patrizia is the officer manager of her family’s ground transportation company, Rudolfo immediately suspects she’s out for the money and possibly connected to the Mafia.
Yet the young Maurizio comes off as somewhat shy and awkward and doesn’t care for his family’s legacy as he’s studying to be a lawyer. Shunned by his father, Maurizio goes to work for Patrizia’s family and they marry. Then, his uncle, Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino in a performance he’s been perfecting for many years in other movie roles) invites Maurizio and Patrizia to New York City and from there, Patrizia is immediately caught up in the fashion world.
Initially on good terms with Aldo, Patrizia gets upset to learn that Aldo is allowing knock-off Gucci items to be made as long as the company gets money. Patrizia is immediately upset because one of the housekeepers, i.e. the help, is able to buy a similar item as her. You can just see in her face how she views herself better than the service industry when she asks the housekeeper smiling but holding back the disgust.
Eventually, Rudolfo passes leaving Maurizio (and Patrizia) 50 percent ownership. Then, the power struggle begins between Maurizio and Patrizia and Aldo and his son, Paplo (Jared Leto in a performance that seems to be in another movie). Aiding Maurizio and Patrizia is tax lawyer Domenico De Sole (Danny Huston) who later begins to climb the ladder from being their lawyer to their business partner.
Eventually, Patrizia begins to focus too much attention on advice from Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma (Salma Hayek), a psychic, and continues to pressure Maurizio to muscle Aldo and Paolo out of the business as well as their shares in the company. But their marriage begins to fall apart as Maurizio eventually falls for the Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin) who actually seems to love Maurizio more regardless of his wealth and fortune.
Anyone who knows of what happen or has Googled it, knows it doesn’t end well for Maurizio. And Driver does his best to make the reluctant businessman sympathetic. Stories like this have been told time and time again, but Ridley Scott as director tries to walk the fine line between outrageous exploitation and family drama. But it doesn’t really work.
Maybe it’s the length. Or maybe it’s the performances that seem almost as if the actors are doing a parody. Driver does his best but you wonder if the movie is telling one side to make his 1995 murder more sympathetic. Lady Gaga stands out among all the other actors (Irons, Leto and Pacino, all who’ve won Oscars). It’s a shame she didn’t get an Oscar nomination. Just because the rest of the movie falls apart doesn’t mean her performance wasn’t perfect.
What do you think? Please comment.