When Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) devoutly makes the sign of the cross and says “Father, son and House of Gucci,” you get a sense of what the luxury fashion brand meant to the working-class girl. Ridley Scott’s true crime take on the 100-year-old brand is not so much about couture, catwalks, copious amounts of coke or catatonic models, but about fathers and sons, husbands and wives and squabbling siblings.
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The film, based on Sara Gay Forden’s 2001 book, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, tells the story of the downfall of the family-owned business through the lens of the outsider, Patrizia. She marries the Gucci heir, Maurizio (Adam Driver), much to his father, Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) dismay.
Rodolfo’s brother, Aldo, (Al Pacino) who was responsible for making Gucci a global brand, is more forgiving of Maurizio and invites the young family to work with him in New York. Aldo does not hold out much hope from his son, Paolo (Jared Leto), who he describes as an idiot, but “my idiot”.
Maurizio, who was studying law when he met and fell in love with Patrizia, does not have the wherewithal to hustle like her and gives Patrizia free rein in the family business — or is it a rope to hang herself?
As Patrizia becomes increasingly ferocious in her dealings with his family, Maurizio distances himself from her. And this sets the stage for Patrizia to orchestrate the hit on Maurizio with a little help from Pina (Salma Hayek), a psychic. The film presents the reasons for Patrizia to get Maurizio killed as a mix of hurt, betrayal, ambition and greed.
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino
- Story line: A look at the grime, crime and glamour in the heritage Italian fashion brand
- Run time: 157 minutes
A movie on a venerable fashion house has to be beautifully-clothed and costume designer Janty Yates does not disappoint. Apparently, the Gucci family allowed access to their archives. Some of the handbags Patrizia carries were originals and kept under lock and key when not on set! Maurizio moves from turtlenecks to three-piece suits as his character evolves to be a Gucci.
Just as the clothes are gorgeous eye candy, the music is an aural treat. From George Michael’s ‘Faith’ during the wedding (the gown is so good) to Donna Summers ‘I feel Love’ and many others, the songs work as a delightful emotional shorthand. Celebrities, including designer Tom Ford (Reeve Carney), actor Sophia Loren (Mădălina Diana Ghenea) and Vogue editor Anna Wintour (Catherine Walker) breeze through the film.
Saving the best for the last is the acting—Lady Gaga has done an extraordinary turn as Patrizia, wading into her role like a gladiator of old, nailing Patrizia’s ferocity and fragility. Driver is equally good as Maurizio showing his transformation in tiny, delicate steps. And what joy to watch Al Pacino do his thing! Leto, under tons of prosthetics had the showiest role while Hayek was almost unrecognisable — almost being the operative word.
After going through a bunch of directors, including Wong Kar-wai, and actors to play Patrizia (Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Margot Robbie, and Natalie Portman), the final film is just right. Yes, it is rather long, careens wildly in tone between soap operatic and cheerless, and is also not very strict with the truth. The film, however, did not feel bloated as one could float along blissfully on the “name that sounded so sweet... but was a curse, too,” as Patrizia succinctly puts it.
House of Gucci is currently running in theatres