House of Gucci is just as bad as everyone expected

Layne Robinson, Writer

Since the first trailer was released, people have had strong opinions about House of Gucci. Despite its big-name actors and the iconic story it tells, few believed this movie would be anything remarkable; those that did believed it would be remarkably bad. Unfortunately, I have to say that they were right. Throughout its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, this movie gave me hope in its potential and then slowly ripped it away. House of Gucci is everything it was anticipated to be, which is to say, a hot mess.

The movie’s beginning, however, shows great promise. The main character, Patrizia Reggiani (played by Lady Gaga) is likable, and her blossoming romance with Maurizio (Adam Driver) is legitimately heartwarming to watch. There is also a compelling conflict here between Maurizio and his father, Rodolfo Gucci, that kept my interest far more than any of the later drama, yet was allowed to fizzle out without a resolution near the end of act one. During the first half-hour, it was easy to forget that I was watching a movie about a luxury clothing empire, and this turned out to be a good thing.

The first act of House of Gucci feels like an easygoing rom-com, and the light, humorous tone fits this narrative. I genuinely laughed at some of the jokes, and the sudden, cut-away scene transitions fit here far better than they do later in the movie. The line delivery from Jared Leto as Paolo and Al Pacino as Aldo especially indicate humorous intent throughout this part of the movie. Unfortunately, this comedic style continues into the rest of the movie.

However, two things that are consistently well-done for the entire duration of this film are the production design and the cinematography. The costumes and sets in House of Gucci all fit the style and narrative extremely well, attempting to keep viewers invested in the world of the story even as the plot and tone go increasingly off the rails. Additionally, the movie’s color and lighting display intentional design. Every frame of this movie is gorgeous to look at, from the homely to the deranged.

This effect is compounded by the cinematography and deliberate composition of every shot. It has a sense of style that mirrors the upscale fashion House of Gucci is all about. Angles used are simple but elegant and value symmetry. At some points in the movie, the camera is placed to dress subjects up and make them appear like art, while at others it is cold and unfeeling, passing no judgement on the events taking place. Both work very well where they are used and serve as a better indicator of the intended tone than the dialogue or editing.

That is the end of everything nice I have to say about this movie. After the first act, the characters are warped and the story becomes convoluted and unenjoyable. Even though I had a good time at the beginning of the movie, the warning signs of this fate were still present. I already mentioned the smash cut transitions that, while they provide humor at first, become anticlimactic later on as they follow up high tension with comedy without giving the audience a chance to adapt. I have also alluded to the tonal confusion that ultimately ends up being House of Gucci’s downfall. The very fact that this story of the internal destruction of a family and their fashion empire begins as a lighthearted romantic comedy proves that it has misconceptions about the story it tells and how the viewer should feel about it.

Additionally, some inappropriate writing and music choices further prove that confusion. Scenes such as the one where Paolo is seen urinating on one of his uncle’s scarves and Patrizia’s line, already infamous from the trailers, “father, son and house of Gucci” are completely discordant with the story as a whole and should have been cut. The same negligence is visible through some of the pop songs that can be heard throughout the film. House of Gucci’s soundtrack should probably not overlap with that of Shrek.

However, one scene, in particular, stood out to me as an indication of everything that is fundamentally wrong with House of Gucci. At the beginning of the movie, shortly after Patrizia and Maurizio get married, they have an entirely unnecessary prolonged sex scene together. This is proof of a fact that can be seen from the trailers: Lady Gaga and Adam Driver are the only reason this movie exists and the only reason that anyone would go see it. A film cannot survive on a star-studded cast alone, but that is exactly what House of Gucci is expected to do, to the detriment of its quality. Ridley Scott is a capable director, but there is a directive effort that was not made in the production of this movie.

This is abundantly clear in the latter part of the movie, which is best described as a car crash that I desperately wanted to be able to look away from. Everything enjoyable in the first half-hour—with the exception of the technical aspects—is absent from the rest of the film. Notably, the main characters totally shift from their earlier characterizations. Patrizia becomes a crazed, jealous and greedy force of destruction, while Maurizio is suddenly wrathful and incompetent. Barely a hint of these traits was visible until it became important to the plot that they were present.

Speaking of plot, the events of this movie are a meandering mess that, while not impossible to follow, were not written with audience enjoyment in mind. The way the story is presented is counterintuitive and feels random and senseless. This is a large part of the reason that the ending feels so sudden and anticlimactic. House of Gucci does not build to anything, so when it tries to have a dramatic climax, it just falls flat. The major turning point had no story foundation or basis in the characters, and as a result, it leaves viewers feeling nothing. It is no wonder, then, that the movie ends so abruptly and leaves viewers so unsatisfied; there was no real climax to warrant this “resolution.”

Ultimately, House of Gucci suffers from being an adaptation of a true story. The creative team seems to have wanted to make a fun, humorous movie when from the start they were working with a story of jealousy, power politics and murder. That dissonance between the events being relayed and the attitude of the creators permeates every aspect of the movie and makes it impossible for viewers to get invested in the plot or find any sympathy for the characters and the lengths they are driven to. This movie is a disaster from front to back, and buying a ticket to see it would be a thorough waste of eleven dollars.