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03 January 2022 Posted by 

HOUSE OF GUCCI - 3 STARS

Good, but prone to excess
REVIEW | JACOB RICHARDSON
HOUSE of Gucci is undeniably a good film; it’s just a little too bland, a little too safe, and a lot too long to be truly great.
DESPITE a colorful performance from Jared Leto, House of Gucci is muted and bloated, turning an interesting real-life story into a cinematic tale of excess; both on screen and behind the camera.
 
Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) is an outsider from humble beginnings, whose relationship with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) of the famed Gucci family causes a rift in his relationship with his father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons).
 
Working with Maurizio’s uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), Patrizia organizes a reunion, and in doing so draws her and her husband into the uber wealthy circle of fashion royalty known as the Gucci’s. But her ambition increases; she wants the fabulous house, the clothes, the clout. Patrizia whispers in Maurizio’s ear, first to oust Aldo, and then to get rid of eccentric cousin Paolo (Jared Leto). 
 
However, the drama, police interest and politics prove to be too much for Maurizio and Patrizia, and as their relationship falls apart, dire decisions are made; decisions that could be life or death for some of the famous family.
 
 
Ridley Scott directs House of Gucci with a distinct absence of flair. While the costuming is excellent, for a film about something as exciting as the fashion industry, one would hope for a more colourful, lively and innovative interpretation. House of Gucci feels a lot like Scott’s All The Money In The World; all muted tones, dutch angles and restraint. 
 
But whereas that movie had an action subplot mixed in, this one does not, resulting in an overabundance of rich people talking in rooms over espressos and paperwork. 
 
 
Then there’s the runtime. Scott presents House of Gucci like a waterlogged corpse; bloated in the extreme, and without anything appealing to show for it. 
 
At 2 hours and 38 minutes, one might imagine this is a truly complex story, or space is given to allow the performers to plumb the depths of their character’s emotionality, but neither of those things are true. 
 
Firstly, the film is as simple a plot as could be. We’ve seen similar plots before, not just in film but in probably two dozen Netflix crime docos over the past twelve months, and Scott doesn’t need the extended runtime to showcase this story. 
 
Secondly, he doesn’t utilise the extra time to great effect. There are great stretches of indulgent scene setting, and when pivotal moments happen in the relationships of these characters, he barely explains them. 
 
Trust your audience
 
While it is always better to under-exposit, and to trust your audience, here it feels like a slap in the face - give me a tighter, higher thinking, shorter film, rather than one that both requires us to mentally interrogate these characters independent of the film and sit in the chair watching nothing happen for nearly 3 hours.
 
 
What that all comes down to is excess. Scott, one of the powerhouse directors of his time, and delivering his second excessive and massive movie of the year, is undoubtedly a hard man to say no to, and the creative control he must exercise independent of critical exterior thought cannot always be a good thing. 
 
Here, we see that on full display, and perhaps that is fitting given that we are discussing a family whose lust for luxury, excess and greatness was their ultimate downfall; Scott’s indulgence in those same vices critically wounds this movie.
 
That being said, Driver and Gaga were both good, and Gaga firmly cements herself as an actress once again. That Oscar was no fluke. Between the pair of them, there isn’t a scene, or line of dialogue, that they can’t handle, and they bring a believability to the larger-than-life story. 
 
A believability that is almost shattered by the absurdist, OTT performance from Jared Leto as Paulo. That being said, we absolutely ADORED his performance - the standout of a film that is too bland and safe for its own good. 
 
After the initial shock, you settle into his work, and it is fine; but never boring, and that is absolutely necessary with this film. 
 
All around, House of Gucci tells and interesting story, and in a very stylish but removed way. It’s anchored by tremendous actors, scenery and costuming. 
 
The problem is that it just all feels a little bland and excepting the brief flares of colour that Leto brings to the piece, it’s a monotonous slog through much of the overly long material. 
 
 
Jacob Richardson is Creative Director at Film Focus. www.filmfocusau.com


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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