Wednesday, November 24, 2021

House of Gucci - Review

Debates are had almost constantly about the preferred length of films. Some prefer shorter, tighter narratives of a 90 minute film, some like the long, epic storytelling of the two and a half to three hour long films, but no one likes an overlong, directionless, slog of a film. House of Gucci falls into that last one if that wasn’t clear, and no amount of over-the-top performances can save it from being what it truly is: boring.

It’s hard to sum up the events of House of Gucci, as the story itself feels like two films jammed together with so much force that the final product is the most boring version of this story. On its face, the story is seemingly following Patrizia Reggiani, the woman who had her famed husband Maurizio Gucci killed in 1995. That big headline grabbing event is saved for the final ten minutes while the rest of the two and a half hour runtime is filled with boring, uninformative familial history and a struggle for power that’s even more snooze induing. 

Its mix of narratives are confounding. On one hand, the story of a marriage ending in murder is intriguing in its own right. The other hand, a familial struggle for power within one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world, potentially captivating. But together, it’s a hodgepodge of tones that never find a semblance of a structure. 

Throw in some wacko performances, and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s honestly no surprise that Jared Leto is laughable here. Emphasis on the laughter, of course, as it’s near impossible to hear any of his comically stereotypical line readings and not hear a certain video game plumber. The rest of the cast doesn’t reach his level of cartoon character, but it’s not much better anywhere else. 

Which leads us to Lady Gaga, the big draw for quite a few people to this film. Does her accent sound even remotely Italian? No. Is that the biggest problem with her performance? Also, no. Her performance is completely inauthentic, and the character suffers because of it. Gaga seems focused more on the accent and expressions the actually infusing the role of Patrizia with life or vulnerability. 

And therein lies the root of the problem with director Ridley Scott’s vision. There’s no life here. No pizzazz or style added to a story of excess and wealth in the world of fashion. It’s true that there is something interesting to be said with the subject material, but Ridley Scott and the writers, Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, seem content to put their haphazard version of an overlong “Succession” episode on the screen. The end result might as well be sitting next to the cheap Gucci knock-offs you’d find along the streets of major cities, worth about as much too. 

House of Gucci is the perfect example of what chasing awards can do to a film. Its overlong and somewhat pretentious attitude can be traced directly back to so many films that have been “awards bait” in the past. The performances are varying degrees of laughably bad, the story is a stew of bad ideas layered on top of questionable choices, and the whole equation adds up to disappointment at every turn. 

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