- Movie Rating -

House of Gucci (2021)

| December 5, 2021

As House of Gucci was coming to a close, with all of the on-screen information of what happened to the real-life members of the Gucci family, I felt a sense of sadness.  It wasn’t a sadness born from what had happened to them, but rather from the fact that while all of them met a terrible fate, I didn’t feel the emotional tug that I really should have had.  Yes, House of Gucci is about an uber-rich Italian family that tears itself apart over money, greed, circumstance, long-held grudges and eventually murder, but there is something in their union that should have yielded at least some sense of loss.  The movie’s final onscreen piece of text should bring the emotional hammer down but sadly it does not.

Set mostly in Milan, the movie is a grand, sweeping epic of wretched excess, of people bound up in a familial legacy of handbags, dresses, shoes, lingerie, hats, cars and sports coats that cost more than you probably made in last two years.  The Gucci family live a capitalist fantasy on the outside but on the inside, there is trouble brewing.  Like all families, they have their problems, their issues, their pettiness and their squabbles.  The difference is that it’s padded with a multi-billion-dollar business.

This shouldn’t have been a surprised.  I have often complained that much of Ridley Scott’s work left me feeling emotionally distant, but this time he might have earned the payoff.  This is not unfamiliar territory for him.  He told a similar story with much better results four years ago with All the Money in the World.  That movie burned with a certain intensity, but here we’re left a little cold which is too bad because the build up is so good.

We meet two kids who fall instantly in love.  It’s 1978 and at a discotheque are 20-ish Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga in a brilliant performance) whose father owns a small trucking business; and Maurizio Gucci (under played by Adam Driver), son and heir to the Gucci fortune.  They fall instantly in love and have a first sexual encounter that is so intense that it might have yielded bruises.  Not to anyone’s surprise, Maurizio and Patrizia want to get married.  To their surprise, his priggish father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) forbids it – he believes Patrizia beneath the family.  Snubbed by the family patriarch, Patrizia finds a welcoming ally in Maurizio’s uncle Aldo (Al Pacino).  There is an interesting dynamic in the brothers.  Rodolfo represents the haughty past while Aldo represents the bizarre changes taking place in the 1970s – possibly one of the reasons that he eventually allies himself with his goofball nephew Paulo who is played by Jared Leto under make-up that makes him look like Gallagher on a Little Debbie’s bender.

Even as strange and stereotypical as these people could sometimes be, I was interested in them.  I was interested in how they handled their business.  I was interested in how they fit together.  I was interested in how one little clerical error on Rodolfo’s part splintered the union between the family and wrought cracks that led to their downfall.  However . . .

Somewhere along the way I stopped caring.  The movie is 157 minutes long and that may be the problem.  Whatever intrigue existed in the first hour was lost in the second as House of Gucci became repetitive and marched inevitably toward its conclusion.  As Maurizio and Patrizia’s marriage disintegrates, I wanted to feel for them.  But something by that point was ringing hollow.  I just didn’t care anymore.  I didn’t care what happened to the family business, Uncle Aldo, Uncle Paolo or to whatever crazy union these people had to each other.

Maybe it was me.  Maybe it was my mind making comparisons to my favorite movie, The Godfather, another movie about bad people living through a legacy of tragedy and personal turmoil.  Maybe I felt that I had seen the same kind of malice in the palace done much better recently on Netflix’s “The Crown”.  But something didn’t work.  By the end, I wasn’t in the room with the Gucci family.  I was watching from a distance.  I felt that instead of a great Italian drama, I often felt the scenes so overplayed that they felt like a daffy Italian comedy, all with silly accents, curses and over-the-top gestures.  The movie ends with a final title card, a piece of information that tells you who is (or really who isn’t) running the Gucci business now.  It’s a sad state of affairs and one that I should have ended up caring about.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2021) View IMDB Filed in: Drama