House of Gucci, by Cameron J. Czaja

If you had told me over a year ago that there was going to be a movie about the Gucci family and I would be interested in seeing it, I would’ve thought you were nuts. I don’t own anything Gucci, and I have no plans to buy any of their products in the foreseeable future. That said, when I heard about this film titled House of Gucci, it caught my eye mainly because of who was making it and the cast. For those who don’t know, this is directed by Ridley Scott, who just released The Last Duel. Despite me not agreeing with his views on movies today (something about superhero films being boring), I was somewhat excited to see this due the director himself. In addition to that, when I heard Lady Gaga (who I wanted to see more in films after 2018’s A Star is Born) and Adam Driver were involved, I became even more piqued. Did this make me want to become a consumer of Gucci? Let’s find out.

Starting in Italy in 1978, House of Gucci follows Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a young Italian woman who works for her father’s trucking company. One evening she attends a party where she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), who is a law student and heir to the Gucci family, of which he owns 50% interest of Gucci via his father Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremey Irons). Afterwards, Patrizia starts pursuing Maurizio romantically and soon he begins to fall for her. While the two are dating, Rodolfo warns Maurizio not to marry her because he thinks she’s only after him for his money and if he does, he will cut him off not only from his current lifestyle, but also from the will entirely. With no hesitation, Maurizio chooses love over money by staying with Patrizia and takes a job at her father’s trucking company in order to make ends meet. Soon the two marry and afterwards Patrizia meets Aldo (Al Pacino) and Paolo (Jared Leto) Gucci, Maurizio’s uncle and cousin, respectively. They control the other half of Gucci’s interest. Unlike Rodolfo, Aldo is welcoming to Patrizia and wants to take the newlyweds under his wing, which delights Patrizia though Maurizio is somewhat reluctant. Aldo even helps Maurizio and Rodolfo (who is terminally ill) to reconcile to the point where Aldo writes Maurizio back into the will. Once more, Maurizio will control 50% of Gucci once Also is gone. Soon the inevitable happens and Aldo passes away though fails to sign the document transferring his Gucci shares to Maurizio before his death, which causes Patrizia to forge a signature, creating a whole host of problems down the road. After both Maurizio and Patrizia obtain 50 % interest of Gucci, she plots to control all of Gucci by obtaining Aldo’s and Paolo’s share. She even gets associated with a psychic named Guiseppina (Salma Hayek) to help her get what she wants and from there the film goes into a rollercoaster of betrayal, greed, vengeance, and death.

When I got done watching House of Gucci, the one thing that I appreciated from it was that it wasn’t a commercial for Gucci products. While they do feature Gucci clothing and accessories, it didn’t go out of its way to sell a product, rather telling the rise and fall of the people behind the Gucci name. That said, while there was a lot other things to appreciate in the film, there were elements in the film itself that I didn’t much appreciate such as the unlikable characters and the structure of the film itself.

Now, I’ve reviewed films for the unlikable characters before on The Legionnaire. Some of these are films that I’ve enjoyed mostly because they have some redeemable qualities or face consequences down the road. House of Gucci does show the consequences, but not to the degree that I anticipated. In fact, there wasn’t any character in this film that I rooted for when it got to the end. Adam Driver’s character Maurizio at first is a likable person. In fact, I admired how he turned down money to be with someone he loved and reconciled with his father before his death, which is something we Catholics should always do when there is a disagreement with loved ones. However, as the film went on, he became more unlikable because he turned into the person that he didn’t want to be all thanks to greed and reckless spending with his control of his Gucci shares. While other characters in the film aren’t any better, his stood out the most because his character showed promise. 

Aside from the characters in House of Gucci, the structure of the film itself is something that felt bothersome to me. This film begins in 1978 and ends in 1997, with the running time of 2 hours and 38 minutes. Now, I don’t mind when a film tells a story that spans a long period of time. What aggravates me is when there are unexplained gaps in that timeframe. I am not saying I wanted an over three-hour film, but I feel like this would’ve worked better as a television mini-series rather than a film. I say that because the last twenty minutes of the film take place in the early to mid ‘90s and before the credits rolled, they would have intertitles describing the fate of the main cast. One of these reveals that a prominent character died of cancer in 1990, and I felt like this was a big piece of information that the film just took as an afterthought. On top of that, one person not mentioned in the summary is the daughter of Patrizia and Maurizio because that character herself felt like an afterthought as well.  Now, you’re probably thinking “why would you want a miniseries from this story? Weren’t you complaining about the characters being unlikable?” While this bit of criticism may feel like a contradiction to what I said earlier, I can at least stomach unlikable characters for a little bit of time rather than an almost three-hour film. Then again, this is coming someone who watched the first season of Tiger King. If you’ve seen that show, then I suspect you understand my position. 

It’s a shame that I didn’t enjoy House of Gucci to the degree as I thought I would going into it. As I mentioned earlier, there are things in this film that I did appreciate that I didn’t discuss, such as the filmmaking, the acting (especially from Lady Gaga), and the pacing of the film, which was a lot better than the one in The Last Duel. Then again, I mentally prepared myself for a long film so that probably helped as well. Would I call this a disappointing film? Not really, as this wasn’t my most anticipated film of the season, but it is disappointing that there are people out there who will throw everything away for money. Then again, that’s the world we live in, unfortunately. 

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