THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF GUCCI
If you're gonna be a square you ain't-a gonna go anywhere.
--from "Mambo Italiano," by Bob Merrill, Frankie Laine and William S. Fischer
Maurizio Gucci has a problem. A self-professed book worm, the future lawyer rides to the library on a rickety bicycle with his tailored pants clipped. Reserved, shy, he also displays little ambition to join the family business. He's happy as he is--until a voluptuous firebrand seduces the young man and leads him into temptation.
Much of The House of Gucci (2021) occurs on location: from Tuscan villas to the fashion capital of Italy, arguably the world in the 1970s, Milan (Milano). And to a point, the combustion that the soon-to-be Patrizia Gucci, née Reggiani (Lady Gaga), creates provides entertaining fireworks. However, Director Ridley Scott squeezes every detail out of the "inspired true story," detritus that could have been omitted.
His cast, many of whom aren't Italian, brings life to the soap opera. Maurizio's northern Italian father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) warns his son that Patrizia, albeit beautiful and charming, wants the Gucci money. Love, nonetheless, drives the obsequious young man (Adam Driver, creative casting, although Maurizio's late mother was German) to rebel, instigating a family feud.
Among the purported "victims" of Patrizia's (and thereby Maurizio's) ambitions include, his Uncle Aldo (Al Pacino, perfetto) and cousin Paolo (a completely transformed, though over-the-top, Jared Leto). A female Dr. Frankenstein, Patrizia's creation, Maurizio, shuns his old life, embracing the nouveau riche lifestyle he eschewed for so long. But when he realizes, too late, his mistake in marrying Patrizia, the tables are turned. In her despair, she becomes the monster.
Her accomplice, a television fortuneteller, Pina Auriemma (Salma Hayek), helps Patrizia unleash il malocchio (the evil eye) figuratively then literally along with the ensuing havoc.
What a firebrand Lady Gaga embodies in this movie. Surrounded by renowned actors, she commands our focus. Even as the plot slows to a crawl, when she appears, the sparks fly. Her polar opposite, Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin, is there anything she can't portray?), understands Maurizio's true self. It would've been fun if there had been more scenes between the two adversaries.
And, though the trailer appears to show the movie as campy, it is not, except for the pathetic character of Paolo. Dashes of humor do appear in the otherwise unremarkable script.
Janty Yates' costume designs (and selections of Gucci outfits) help illuminate the attraction of the Gucci brand as well as compliment without overpowering Lady Gaga's Patrizia. Both women should be recognized during the awards season.
A must-see in movie theaters for its scope, House of Gucci tries to balance both perspectives, Maurizio and Patrizia's, as to who is to blame for their downfall. The fate of the Gucci men may have already been determined by their own frailties before she marries Maurizio. Nonetheless, it's her burning desire to have everything that ignites the flame. "Hell hath no fury..."
Rated R for hot sex, language, nudity, and urination.
Now playing at a theater near you. Locals: Entertainment Cinemas, South Dennis.
Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com
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