Many iconic fashion brands have little to do with the designers whose names adorn their clothing, having long ago been bought up by luxury conglomerates, but few can boast as scandalous a coup as the house of Gucci. Filled with scheming, backstabbing, familial tensions, and even murder, all set in the world of the absolute highest fashion, this is a story that seems custom tailored for movie adaptation. Throw in a big name cast and well-known director and we’ve got a potential modern masterpiece, or at least a camp classic. Unfortunately, we don’t quite get either of those.
Opening in 1978, Patrizia Regiani (Lady Gaga) encounters Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party. She quickly decides that they will wind up together and aggressively pursues him. His father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), who owns half of the Gucci company, suspects she may be after his money and disapproves of the relationship, but Maurizio marries her anyway, and is cast out of his father’s house. His uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), owner of the other half, takes an interest in the couple and tries to reconcile father and son, often while ignoring his own son Paolo (Jared Leto). Unbeknownst to them, Patrizia’s scheming has been behind much of this, and she continues to plan and plot, getting Maurizio to move against his uncle and cousin and ultimately bring her whole world crashing down around herself.
It can feel like there are two different movies happening simultaneously here, with a glitzy but serious-minded true crime story on the one hand, and a campy, fashion-world melodrama on the other. It manages to be mostly successful at both, though every time Pacino and Leto are hamming it up together on screen, it’s hard not to wish the movie had leaned a bit harder towards its sillier side. Ridley Scott’s direction feels mostly flat and workmanlike here. There aren’t any big set pieces for him to show off with in the story and he shoots everything without any of the flash you would expect from the subject matter. Luckily the cast all really shine, with Driver and Gaga’s central performances being especially noteworthy, and they really help to carry the audience’s interest over the 150+ minute runtime. In all it feels a bit like a Gucci show before Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) came in to shake things up: it’s classy and entertaining enough, and the models all look great, but the clothes, while well made, could have used a little trimming and maybe a sequin or two. ★★★★
Rated R for language, some sexual content, and brief nudity and violence.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor