Combustible Celluloid
 
With: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Alexia Murray, Vincent Riotta, Gaetano Bruno, Camille Cottin, Youssef Kerkour, Reeve Carney, Florence Andrews, Mehdi Nebbou, Miloud Mourad Benamara, Andrea Piedimonte Bodini, Vincenzo Tanassi
Written by: Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna, based on a book by Sara Gay Forden
Directed by: Ridley Scott
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content, and brief nudity and violence
Running Time: 157
Date: 11/24/2021
IMDB

House of Gucci (2021)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Clothes Encounters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Ridley Scott's House of Gucci begins like Lawrence of Arabia, with its protagonist riding a bicycle (rather than a motorcycle) to his certain doom. And it's structured like The Godfather, with an innocent becoming inexorably drawn into a world of high-stakes crime. But it doesn't have the grace or majesty of an epic. Scott doesn't seem like the man for the job here; his best films involve the characters and their interactions with their surroundings, but here the opulent rooms, over-designed and packed with stuff, don't do anything but constrict. For a while, the film has some campy comedy, but after about an hour of that, it dries out and goes on, mirthless, for another hour and a half.

Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) works as a secretary for her father's trucking company. She meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) — part of the wealthy clothing family — when he stands dazedly behind the bar and she tries to order a drink from him. They become enchanted with one another, much to the chagrin of Maurizio's father, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons, brilliant, as usual), a withered soul who seems incapable of connecting with anything except his memories. Maurizio walks out on his family fortune to be with her. He even gets a job washing trucks, playfully spraying his co-workers with the hose and having sex in the office during lunch.

Maurizio's uncle Aldo (a hilarious Al Pacino, voraciously chewing at the scenery) likes Patrizia a lot, and encourages Maurizio to come back to the family. When Rodolfo dies, Patrizia begins manipulations to catapult herself and her husband to the top of the Gucci empire. Essentially, Irons and Pacino are the best things here, and after Irons is gone and the wind is taken out of Pacino's sails, the movie just feels limp and nasty, like an angry, wet cat.

Even Gaga, who is so lovable in the early scenes, turns into a snappish harridan with steely, angry eyes, and a fixed frown. Scott can't seem to shape her performance to become anything deeper than this, so when Maurizio throws her away, we can't help but want to wash our hands along with him. An even bigger problem is the curious casting of Jared Leto, heavily made-up as Aldo's "idiot" son Paolo; he's bald, buried in layers of blubber and loud, clownish 1970s suits, and he constantly seems to be operating from outside the story, separate from everything. His weird line readings, peppered with mismatched swear words, come from nowhere. (Leto is a serial over-actor, but he outdoes himself here.) Driver is tasked with holding the final hour together pretty much by himself, and he lands some scenes via pure force of will, but the movie has already been lost.

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