Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” had an unimpressive box office debut in third place on what was frankly an unimpressive Thanksgiving weekend.
A week has gone by, I’ve already seen “Encanto” at # 1 and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” at # 2, and no studio wants to open anything new in the notoriously first weekend. December abyss. So still-No. 3 “House of Gucci” is under review.
Is he as unimpressive as his numbers? In a way, it is. The film is almost three hours long and didn’t wow me, so disappointment is bound to play a part in my opinion. But at the same time, I can’t say it’s some kind of spectacular flop, or even a flop at all, really.
Lady Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, heir to a pathetic Italian trucking empire that aspires to something more. She finds that “more” in the form of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), heir to the sprawling fashion empire.
Aspiring lawyer Maurizio has no desire to get into the family business, and in fact he is happy to lose his legacy after his father Rudolfo (Jeremy Irons) disapproves of Patrizia and makes him choose between love and love. ‘silver.
The couple are poor but happy, Maurizio goes to work for Patrizia’s father and sneaks into a romantic date in a trailer. A romantic scene could have been cut after a few kisses, but she sticks with the two… longer than necessary.
Eventually, either out of genuine affection or a long-running scam, Patrizia and Maurizio are kind to Rudolfo and are accepted into the Gucci empire. At the top is Maurizio’s uncle Aldo, who welcomes Maurizio into the company with open arms, having found a way to keep the brand in the family without having to cede it to his incompetent son Paolo (Jared Leto).
But where Maurizio sees loving family members, Patrizia sees obstacles to taking over Gucci for herself. She is destined for greatness, her medium Pina (Salma Hayek) tells her so. It’s just about removing Aldo from power, getting Paolo to sell his shares in the company, and dealing with Maurizio. The progress of the marriage will determine exactly what it means to “take care of” Maurizio.
Considering all the ambition and betrayal (not to mention the crime), it’s hard not to see “House of Gucci” as some sort of “Godfather” movie. Veteran Pacino is like Michael Corleone in Part III – shrunken and prominent, but also frail and losing his grip on power.
Driver is like Michael in Part I – smart and willing to go his own way, but ultimately sucked into the family business. And Leto, in a comparison everyone quite rightly makes, is Fredo – desperate to prove his worth, but so disastrous that he can only go deeper with every opportunity.
Moreover, he is bald. Granted, the real Paolo Gucci was too, but you can’t tell me that there isn’t at least a little bit of John Cazale in this look.
“House of Gucci” makes questionable decisions, like the aforementioned sex scene, giving Gaga and Leto a lot of leeway with their Italian accents and skipping over major pieces of the family timeline. But it’s a pretty invested story.
I was lying in my theater seat and never felt the need to bang my head against whoever was standing next to me.
And of course, there are lavish costumes – even the horrors that Paolo designs are clearly the result of painstaking effort.
Between “Cruella”, “Spencer” and “West Side Story” next week will be a good year for the Best Costume Design category at the Oscars.
As for the movie as a whole, I’ll give it a slight recommendation.