Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci premiered at the end of the last month in most theatres worldwide. Going into the cinema, I was beyond excited, and rightfully so: from the fast-paced official trailer and posters that seemed to pop up in front of every movie theatre, to the stellar cast that starred in it, including big names like Adam Driver, Al Pacino, and Jeremy Irons, the film appeared promising to say the least. To add to the intrigue, the film seemed to have divided film critics and reviews even before its official release.
House of Gucci (2021) is a biographical crime drama that follows the fight for power within the Gucci family, and charts the evolution of the brand itself. It focuses, in particular, on the romance and subsequent marriage between Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), and eventually leads up to Maurizio Gucci’s death at the end of the movie.
Reportedly, Ridley Scott was interested in making a film about the Gucci dynasty since the early 2000s and he acquired the rights for Sara Gay Forden’s book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, on which the film is based, in 2006.
It goes without saying then that the film is mainly based on real events and people and is not just a piece of fiction. This perhaps adds another layer to the film because it has to account for the fact that what is being portrayed on the screen has to stay true at least to some level, to the reality of the historical events.
This is particularly true considering how sensitive the material may be for the members of the Gucci family who are alive today, as it prompts them to relive what are perhaps very painful and delicate moments in their family history. Further, legal issues arise as the family have no creative agency and receive no royalties from the production, as it is a film based on a re-telling.
From this perspective, one can understand Patrizia Reggiani’s claims regarding the film: her annoyance about not being contacted by Lady Gaga and her worry about her daughters, who would have to re-live such a painful and potentially disturbing story.
Furthermore, other members of the Gucci family spoke against the film as well. Patrizia Gucci, for example, was disappointing for the family, as she felt that the film was denying them their privacy and overstepping important boundaries in the name of economic profit for Hollywood.
House of Gucci: Film Analysis
Although the producers certainly had their own reasons, excluding the Gucci family and not taking their criticism into account is perhaps why this film is underwhelming, despite the potential of such an intriguing story of a powerful family that turns the wheels of intrigue and interest for many. For a film that is supposed to be an exciting thriller, the tone and pacing seem fairly inconsistent, which often does not do justice to the expectations the film established in the opening scene.
Moreover, the narrative trajectory seems to prioritise the American characters by portraying them in a positive light, while the Italian characters reflect the racial stereotype of being incompetent at their work. Ultimately, the Americans step up and save the day. Perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is the actor’s fake Italian accents. As an Italian, I was put off from the very beginning.
As the characters are all Italian, it would have made more sense to either have them all speak Italian or cast Italian actors or simply, let them speak in English, which the audience would have accepted as the reality of the film. Having them all put on an inaccurate accent – as highlighted by Francesca De Martini, an Italian actress, and dialect coach who said Lady Gaga’s accent sounded more Russian than Italian – only functions to underline that we are, in fact, watching a fictitious film, thus breaking the narrative pact.
Despite these negative aspects that perhaps made the film a mainstream product for seemingly economic gain, we have to give it credit where credit is due. The comic timing is impeccable and jokes are well-delivered, edging it towards a comedy rather than the darker film House of Gucci was set out to be.
Furthermore, the costumes are gorgeous and definitely play a part in the construction of each character, as well as in creating the atmosphere of 1980s/1990s Italy. Of course, the latter is also aided by the fact that House of Gucci was filmed on locations in Italy – it was nice to recognize places that I am familiar with as the backdrop of some scenes.
Lastly, there are noticeable references to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972), particularly in the last scene, which is certainly a beautiful tribute to such an important movie in film history.