New out this week is the biographical drama, House of Gucci. Based on Sara Gay Forden’s book, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, the movie tells the story of Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci – two real-world figures, who play a key role in the changing face of iconic Italian fashion brand, Gucci.

In the movie, Patrizia Reggiani is a young woman who works as a secretary for her father’s business. She knows her way around the office, runs a tight ship, and is good at forging her father’s signature on business documents (with his permission). 

One evening, Patrizia goes to a costume party where she meets Maurizio Gucci – heir to the Gucci fashion house. After engaging in conversation with Maurizio, Patrizia decides she would like to know him better.

The next day, Patrizia tracks Maurizio down and after the pair go out on a date, a relationship soon follows, and then marriage. But the romantic union causes Maurizio to become estranged from his father, and his family. 

Keen to reunite her husband with the Gucci dynasty, Patrizia sets out to get the family back together. However, as Patrizia becomes more involved with the Guccis, she begins to show a greater interest in the family business, along with it’s vast wealth.

Image: ©United Artists/Universal Pictures
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House of Gucci stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek. The film is directed by Ridley Scott, and is currently playing in UK and US cinemas. 

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, or you’ve found yourself buried under a pile of stylish, yet rather expensive Italian clothing, you won’t have missed the huge marketing drive for House of Gucci. Between billboard posters, bus ads, and various interviews and press junkets, the film is arriving surrounded by a great deal of marketing.

If you’ve been to the cinema in the past month, it’s likely you will have also noticed the trailer for House of Gucci. You’ll know the one – it’s the trailer which suggests the movie is a  rather quirky picture, which is possibly both playful and amusing.

Well, quirky it most certainly is, but not necessarily in the way the trailer suggests. The film certainly has its quirks, but I’m not convinced any of them are intentional. 

As for playful and amusing? There’s the odd spattering of fun here and there, but it comes in short bursts and largely as a result of the uneven tone of the film.

One minute the movie is a serious drama, the next it borders on pantomime. For every good scene, there are some frankly bizarre ones, the whole thing is a bit all over the place, and it’s not really the movie being advertised in the trailers.

And while House of Gucci is filled to the brim with great actors, the film has quite a problem in the thespian department. Some of the cast understand the assignment, and some of them clearly don’t.

Image: ©United Artists/Universal Pictures
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If you’re a fan of Lady Gaga and you plan on watching this movie just to see her in action as Patrizia, I have good news: She’s great. Gaga is excellent in this movie, never once faltering in her performance.

As Patrizia, Gaga plays a larger than life character, who could easily come close to parody, yet she never oversells the part. She knows her character inside and out, and it shows in every line she utters and every movement she makes.

The same can be said for Adam Driver, who takes on the role of Maurizio. As with Gaga, Driver creates the perfect balance with his character, and he brings believability to the role.

Where things start to fall apart is when the movie moves beyond these two actors. Al Pacino are Salma Hayek are largely fine, although from time-to-time their performances are caricatures, but Jeremy Irons comes across as something dug up from the set of a Hammer Horror movie.

As for Jared Leto, I honestly have no idea what the heck he is doing in this film. It’s as if he is working from his own script, in his own film, in his own world, and possibly in his own universe.

Leto takes on the role of Maurizio’s cousin, Paolo Gucci, and this part requires the actor to don prosthetics, including a bald cap. Problem is, the whole thing just looks like Jared Leto in prosthetics and a bald cap!

At no point is Leto’s transformation convincing. It just comes across as an actor doing ‘a bit’. 

His performance is incredibly distracting, for all the wrong reasons. It’s all rather strange and at times unintentionally amusing.

What makes things worse, is when Leto gets together with his fellow actors for some scenery chewing. They all try to out perform each other and it all feels like a bit of a ball swinging competition.

At various points in the movie, you are pulled out of the story, simply because the actors can’t stop acting ‘at’ each other, rather than ‘with’ each other. Many of them believe an Oscar is in sight, if only they can throw more ‘acting’ in its direction. 

It’s here when the movie starts getting away from itself, and when everything begins to get lost up its own arse. One minute it’s on track, the next it disappears into self-importance and there’s no turning back.

Yet despite all this ham acting, there is a silver lining. The over-the-top performances (by some), help to gloss over the movie’s biggest sticking point: It’s yawn-inducing running time.

House of Gucci is 157 minutes long, which is approximately 67 minutes longer than this movie needs to be. Director Ridley Scott has taken a story that could be told in an hour-and-a-half and he’s stretched it out to almost two-hours-forty-minutes.

The result is a film that is too long in general, but after a certain point in particular you can feel every damn minute. This movie seriously needed an edit, or someone to reign it all in, because it’s all just too much.

Image: ©United Artists/Universal Pictures
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I watched House of Gucci on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon. It was horrid outside, the film was on in the cinema, I was there, and the passage of time most certainly happened.

I can confirm that I very much enjoyed the warmth of the auditorium, and that sections of film weren’t bad either. It started well, and the two leads remained bright throughout, but the picture got too bogged down and by the end it all tested my patience. 

I enjoyed the soundtrack (essentially a jukebox of recognisable ‘80s tracks), and I felt the costumes and settings were superb. As for the rest, it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t spectacular, it simply happened.

Before I sat down to watch House of Gucci, I knew almost nothing about the Gucci story. After watching the film, the big thing I took away from the experience is that no one in the Gucci family actually works for Gucci these days.

This little nugget of info was something I found genuinely interesting, but I sat through a $75 million movie to learn this. A quick Google search would have done the same trick and I wouldn’t have felt like I was indulging in an acting ego trip.

And ultimately that’s what this movie feels like. It’s a picture featuring a number of actors in search of an Academy Award (and I doubt they will find it).

Image: ©United Artists/Universal Pictures
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There has been a lot of chatter in the news as of late, about Ridley Scott and his frustration over the mobile phone generation and their lack of engagement. I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon of the argument, so I’ll simply say if the director wants audiences to engage with his material, he needs to get to the point far quicker – none of us are getting any younger!

House of Gucci is an uneven movie that begins to buckle under the weight of its own hair spray and power suits, as well as all that runtime. Gaga is excellent, as is Driver, but the rest is a mixed bag.

If you’re desperate to see it, approach with caution and the understanding that you may come away feeling unsatisfied. Parts of the movie are fine, but they do get somewhat lost along the way, and it’s not as entertaining as it thinks it is.

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