‘House of Gucci’ needs more fashion, less drama

Lady Gaga in a red dress and gloves
Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.”
(Fabio Lovino/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

More context is needed to make Ridley Scott’s Gucci family saga widely appealing


Dear Ridley Scott,

Why did you direct a movie about one of the most storied fashion houses in the world and then not include a lot of fashion?

We get it, the Gucci family makes for a fascinating subject — rags to riches, global success, Italian villas, backstabbing and, ultimately, murder. Who wouldn’t want to make a movie about that?

But who do you think is going to watch it? The people who already love your movies like “Gladiator” and “Alien”? Perhaps. Murder podcast fans looking for a good crime-of-passion story? Likely. But the ones who have most been anticipating “House of Gucci” are people who like and follow fashion, and this movie is about everything but.

It begins as a love story. Working-class girl Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) sets her eyes on the charming Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), an heir to the Gucci fortune who has little interest in the family business. Gaga and Driver have immediate chemistry, and the first part of the movie sets a fun, joyful tone — even though it’s evident that Patrizia is also attracted to Maurizio’s money and status.

Thanks to glamorous 1970s-era outfits, music, disco parties and beautiful Italian scenery, we’re temporarily fooled into thinking this movie will be worthy of its hype.

For example, after Maurizio is cut off from his disapproving father, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), he goes to work with Patrizia at her father’s bus yard. You could make an entire movie out of young Gucci’s time here, washing buses and playing dusty pickup games of soccer, and it would’ve been more fascinating.

But as soon as “House of Gucci” shifts into a complicated, scheming family drama about money and power, the movie becomes confusing and indulgent. Ridley Scott, you can’t seem to figure out if you’re telling us a weighty, “Godfather”-type saga or if you’re going for an over-the-top, campy crime story (the inclusion of Salma Hayek as clairvoyant Pina Auriemma would suggest this).

A fancy Italian family sitting on a couch
(l-r.) Jared Leto stars as Paolo Gucci, Florence Andrews as Jenny Gucci, Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci in “House of Gucci.”
(Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

No matter how many business meetings you set in beautiful parlors or how many seaside Italian villas we spend time in, this constant change of tone means there’s no emotional connection to make us care that what happens to any of the characters.

We don’t even get an actual fashion show until the later part of the movie, when, in the 1990s designer Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) comes in to freshen up the brand — which means non-fashion audiences don’t have much reference or reason to be invested in Gucci itself.

What saves “House of Gucci” is the A-list cast that also includes Al Pacino as brand chairman Aldo Gucci. Plus, an unrecognizable Jared Leto is entertaining as Paolo Gucci, the oddball family member who serves as comic relief both intentional and unintentional.

Still, you do get credit for casting Gaga. She captures the determined and scheming spirit of Patrizia, while also knowing how to showcase the clothes in a way that elevates them from costumes to fashion. It may not be enough to carry the movie, but at this point, it’ll have to do.

'House of Gucci'

Rating: R

When: Opens Wednesday

Where: Wide release

Running time: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Two stars