BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

House of Gucci (15)

Rating: , BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

Lady Gaga, with her customary penchant for shrinking into the shadows, turned up at the London premiere of Sir Ridley Scott’s new movie House of Gucci two weeks ago swathed in a diaphanous purple gown (Gucci, naturally) with a train long enough to satisfy Great Western Railway.

And the frock, it turned out, matched her acting.

Gaga, now a veteran leading lady after 2018’s exhilarating A Star Is Born, gives a big purple showstopper of a performance in House of Gucci.

The singer has revealed that she drew on her teenage experience of sexual assault to portray Patrizia Reggiani, the woman with more front than Milan cathedral who in 1972 married Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), heir to the fashion empire, and later, the year after their 1994 divorce, had him murdered by a hitman.

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

Lady Gaga, with her customary penchant for shrinking into the shadows, turned up at the London premiere of Sir Ridley Scott’s new movie House of Gucci two weeks ago swathed in a diaphanous purple gown (Gucci, naturally) with a train long enough to satisfy Great Western Railway

It is certainly a heck of a story – and Scott has assembled a heck of a cast (also featuring Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto and Salma Hayek).

Irons plays Rodolfo Gucci, the elegant patriarch who is aghast when his bright, affable son Maurizio marries the low-born Patrizia (so frightfully unsophisticated that she mistakes a family Klimt for a Picasso), considering her a gold-digger.

In truth, she’s not. It’s a genuine love match which turns sour.

With Rodolfo assailed by terminal illness (signalled in that time-honoured cinematic way by coughing blood into a hankie), attention switches to his New York-based brother Aldo (Pacino), whose own son, Paolo (Leto), is entirely hapless.

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News
, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

The singer has revealed that she drew on her teenage experience of sexual assault to portray Patrizia Reggiani, the woman with more front than Milan cathedral who in 1972 married Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), heir to the fashion empire, and later, the year after their 1994 divorce, had him murdered by a hitman

Patrizia, by contrast, proves herself surprisingly astute in business once Maurizio succeeds as chairman – but when their marriage begins to falter she too falls apart, becoming absurdly in thrall to a celebrity fortune-teller (Hayek).

There are distinct echoes of The Godfather, compounded of course by Pacino’s presence, while the idiotic Paolo is strikingly reminiscent of John Cazale’s immortal Fredo Corleone. But as an exercise in story-telling House of Gucci is not fit to kiss The Godfather’s boots. 

It is a muddle, confused in both narrative and tone, and not especially helped by the decision to get the entire ensemble talking foreign-accented English, as if it were an extended episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo. Disconcertingly, the plot keeps deviating from the relationship between Patrizia and Maurizio to focus on the boardroom grapple for control of the company. 

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

, BRIAN VINER’s two-star review of House of Gucci, The Evepost BBC News

It is a muddle, confused in both narrative and tone, and not especially helped by the decision to get the entire ensemble talking foreign-accented English, as if it were an extended episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo

The two are inextricably linked, of course, but it’s sometimes hard to work out which matters more to Scott and his screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna (adapting the 2001 book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed). And while comedic, Leto’s chaotic Paolo seems like a pantomime turn which feels forced at times.

Another problem is the film’s length – over two and a half hours. Ridley Scott and his producer – who happens to be his wife Giannina Facio – could have cut 30 minutes from the movie.

That said, House of Gucci is by no means devoid of pleasures. It is sumptuous to look at, with terrific period detail, and Pacino especially is in fine form.

But, certainly, the scene-stealer is Gaga.

She was not by all accounts the first choice to play Patrizia. Angelina Jolie, Penelope Cruz and Margot Robbie were all mentioned before her. But she really looks the part, and if you don’t mind cod-Italian accents you might think she sounds it, too.

House of Gucci opens in cinemas on Friday