House of Gucci was one of two Ridley Scott films released in 2021. The Last Duel was largely ignored and remains underseen, although a warm reception from critics but it was House of Gucci, the true story of the famous fashion house, family and murder, that got everyone talking and can you blame them? House of Gucci is outrageous, scandalous and unbelievable. And we’re not talking about the story itself, but everything about the film specifically. 

House of Gucci is all about Patrizia Reggiani, played here with furious gusto by Lady Gaga. A working class girl working for her father’s truck company, she has a meet-cute with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the unwilling heir of the Gucci family. The pair eventually marry and Patrizia begins to hustle to get herself and Maurizio in with the world-famous brand and the wealth that comes with it. It’s no spoiler to say that the story ends in tragedy, for everyone involved. 

Universal Pictures

Patrizia is without a doubt the most interesting character in the Gucci saga. Scott’s film leaves unclear whether she truly falls in love with Maurizio or whether she just senses a great opportunity and falls in love with the lifestyle and potential of the Gucci brand. Gaga constantly toes the line with fabulously camp and a woman in despair and it’s not always successful but it’s constantly watchable and engaging. 

Al Pacino, who plays Maurizio’s uncle Aldo and Adam Driver play it mostly straight. Driver paints a fascinating portrait of a man desperate to be more than his family name, but is seduced and tricked by his wife and her ambition into becoming someone he never wanted to be. In some ways, House of Gucci implies Patrizia, who served nearly two decades in prison, brought it all on herself. Jared Leto hams it up to eleven as Maurizio’s cousin Paolo and sounds like he borrowed his Italian accent from a Dolmio commercial. 

House of Gucci is much more interesting in its first half when it explores character dynamics more closely, but loses steam in the second. The most striking and alienating part of House of Gucci is how much Maurizio changes, seemingly without a reason. He is said to be excessive, but we never really see him engage with the lifestyle because the focus is solely on Patrizia and her ambitions. Maurizio becomes cold, distant and incredibly unlikable very suddenly. 

Universal Pictures

Scott never really seems to settle on whether he wants to make a serious drama about the rise and fall of one woman or whether to make a farcical, camp thriller about a famous fashion house. The performances aren’t harmonious with each other, but all the actors seem to be battling for the limelight and give performances that are too contrasting to create a consistent film. The production design and costumes along with hair and make up are exemplary though. 

The film is accompanied by three short featurettes on the making and styling of the film and Gaga’s role as Patrizia. They’re generic and lack meat on their bones with key talent repeating things we’ve already heard about working on the film. Nothing feels very specific to House of Gucci; they could be talking about any film. 

House of Gucci is available on DVD and Blu-Ray February 21.