Alt i House of Gucci is over the top. The accents. The performances. Mature. The settings. Driving time. The music. Greed. This movie knows exactly what it is, and sweet, it’s wonderfully decadent, ridiculously funny.
There is an alternative universe in which House of Gucci is a subtle Italian-language film. Maybe it’s a more straightforward tragedy. Perhaps it’s even a limited series that takes the viewer back to the origins of the Italian luxury brand in 1921.
But director Ridley Scott and screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna have chosen the route of opera art. One does not cast Jared Leto as a clownish Fredo type and get him to perform against a father played by Al Pacino by accident. Big is the point.
Based on a book by Sara Gay Forden, House of Gucci is about the dissolution of the Gucci dynasty. Their reign over the eponymous leather goods and fashion house lasted only three generations. But as any new money family knows, when the third generation takes over, there is usually no one left to remember a time when there were no extraordinary riches and privileges.
And this is where we pick up with the Gucci family, where the company is run by founder Guccio Gucci’s sons Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) and Aldo (Pacino). Scott’s films depict the siblings of the other second generation in part to streamline an already extensive story, but mostly to hammer in the father-son themes. Aldo’s son is Paolo (Leto), a fool with delusions of greatness and a little talent to back it up. Rodolfo’s son is Maurizio (Adam Driver), who is smart but would rather study law than join the family business.
However, our entry into this world is an outsider: Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a local bomb and party girl who meets Maurizio by chance. Her eyes light up with a manic purpose when she hears that his last name is Gucci and she makes it her mission to become a part of his life.
It may sound creepy, especially if you know where it all ends, but it’s actually quite charming at first. The beginning of their odyssey plays like an airy romantic comedy, with Patrizia as the gentle hunter of Driver’s soft and embarrassed prey. Both are happy and in love, and they stay together, even after Rodolfo cuts off his son because he chose to marry one under his station. And it’s true, Patrizia may not have much in the way of education or culture and fail Klimt for Picasso, but she also has a way with people and we will find out is a natural Machiavelli.
After a short honeymoon period where Maurizio gets to play poor and work in his family’s trucking company, an opportunity opens up as Aldo invites the newlyweds to his birthday. Maurizio comes out of the lavish cases even more convinced that simple life is for him, but Patrizia is not about to let this precious window evaporate. And soon they are both in the deep.