Start with the accents. Ridley Scott’s new film House of Gucci is about one of Italy’s most notable and notorious fashion families, but it’s an English-language film featuring an extraordinary cast of American actors and British Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and Jack Huston, who speak English heavily accented in Italian. The move makes the film look ridiculous from the start, like a Monty Python parody of the fashion world. It serves no dramatic purpose, but it does serve an important commercial and industrial purpose: it transforms acting into a stuntman, exhibiting the exceptional effort required of performers to navigate the dialogue game of phonic hopscotch. It’s a verbal variety of Oscar bait, an elocutionary version of bear fighting, the laborious stunt business that won Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar for The Revenant. Deception can attract rewards, but it does a disservice to the House of Gucci actors.
The added verbal hurdles are all the more regrettable as the film’s script, written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, is full of sharp repartees that reverberate fascinatingly far beyond the confines of character-specific issues. Still, Scott focuses with narrow-minded obstinacy on the issues at hand, and the resulting film feels like a real crime TV miniseries cut into pieces and pieces. Jack Webb could not have done a more rigorous filtering job for just the facts than Scott did, to the detriment of any societal and historical resonance the drama packs and any psychological depth the characters possess.
The story centers on the distant descendant of the Gucci clan, Maurizio (Chauffeur), who in 1978 was a cheerful, serious and carefree law student in Milan, studious, reserved, elegant, relaxed, cycling around the city, a clip around the ankles of his well-cut pants. Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) is the manager of her father’s trucking firm’s office in Milan, where she shows up in tight dresses and high heels and is subjected to the screams of truckers hanging out in the yard. Uncomfortable during a disco night with friends, Maurizio lingers alone behind an isolated bar; he and Patrizia meet when she asks him for a drink and he has to admit he’s not the bartender. Patrizia asks him to dance, he hesitates, she undoes his tie and relaxes him. Then, knowing that she will never see him again otherwise, she takes a seat in a cafe near her school’s library, pretends to be a law student, then gives him her phone number by writing it in lipstick. on the windshield of his scooter. It is the aerial kiss of death.
I have yet to see Joel Coens upcoming The Tragedy of Macbeth, but I will be surprised if Frances McDormand, for all the strength of her art, nurtures Lady Macbeth’s ambition with the same carnal energy that Lady Gaga brings to the role. remarkably similar to Patrizia. As with Shakespeare’s play, everyone knows how Patrizia and Maurizio’s drama comes out: it’s also well known that she paid hired killers to kill him that Birnam Wood finally came to Dunsinane.
Patrizia turns Maurizio’s life upside down in an irresistible whirlwind of sex and pleasure. After introducing his new girlfriend to his father, Rodolfo (Irons), the older man makes the cardinal mistake of the disapproving parent: he not only expresses his disapproval (expressing his suspicion that Patrizia is a gold digger and his father a mafioso) but threatens to cut Maurizio and, in doing so, forces the young man’s hand. Maurizio proposes to Patrizia, moves in with his parents and takes a job in the family trucking business, where he wears a uniform and befriends other working men. After the wedding with the Gucci side of the empty church, Maurizio confides in Patrizia his skepticism about his own family business. For her, however, it’s the price, and it quickly proves to be at hand. Rodolfos’ brother, Aldo (Pacino), who owns the remaining fifty percent of the business, sees his own son, Paolo (Leto) as an aspiring designer, for a bad taste idiot, and he wants to lure Maurizio into the company. When he does (with Patrizia as a persuasive proxy), she grabs it with both hands: as a family member with a place at the table in meetings, and as the wife of a still shy potentate. which she wrapped around her finger. But disaster quickly follows. Maurizio’s role in the business comes at a high emotional and moral price, and, when he tires of paying that price, he loses his illusions with Patrizia and files for divorce, prompting him to ultimately seek revenge.
Throughout House of Gucci, certain themes of underlying power and global scope threaten to break into the action and bring substance to the film, namely the difficult connection between family businesses and capitalism, the inefficiency inherent in inherited power, the inevitable and painful transition from dynasties to partnerships and publicly traded companies. These topics are at least touched on in several well-written scenes of fascinating boardroom maneuvers, but they remain isolated: Scott treats the Gucci saga as a mere thread (albeit heartbreaking), the cinematic equivalent of a series of anecdotes. of bar stools told in a jovial manner. that negate the social implications of the stories and the haunting psychology. Patrizia is a shallow Lady Macbeth, without the sense of the deep twist suggested by her ruthless demeanor, without any hint of her character’s violence. She has nerve and flashes of wit, but her relationship with Maurizio is a white one, the substance of their life together is rigorously kept off-screen. It’s a key plot point that Patrizia calls a television psychic, Pina Auriemma (Salma Hayek), who becomes his confidante and accomplice. The Women’s Connection suggests the class differences between Patrizia and Maurizio, but these differences remain completely unexplored, only affirmed when they conveniently push for action.
The film’s essential hollow is all the more appalling as its absurdly glorious moments of pop-iconic grandeur are mostly sharpened by Gagas’ screen-control gestures. Scott revel in melodramatic touches such as Patrizia raising her hand with springy intensity to display her wedding ring, and in a sublime conqueror’s air entering the family home after the murder. House of Gucci is a Gagas film, and she tears it apart with exuberant yet precise ferocity. She’s the primary reason the film sometimes transcends the limits of its scripted action. His performance is unusual, made of energetic gesticulations and inflections in high relief; she’s not expressively complex at rest, except through the blazing power of her fiercely fixed gaze, which is the film’s dominant visual trope. Given her lack of extensive theatrical training, however, the accent shtick inherently puts her at a disadvantage next to her co-stars. She looks a bit like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I can’t get Patrizia’s answer to Rodolfo out of my head when he asks her about his interests: I’m happy for pips, she said.
Driver is the last decade’s onscreen MVP in the movies, and he faces the duress with courage; it’s the writing of House of Gucci that lets him down. There’s not enough doubt or equivocation in Maurizio’s transformation to support the interrogative intellectual distraction Driver brings to the character. He gets a good gesture in a happy, lonely jump over a couch in his splashing new Manhattan office, a moment of his good to be the king who, rather than ushering in his new reign of inner strife, pushes them away. (Scott offers a little twist for Maurizio, although it’s not a performance moment but a glimpse of his family-branded moccasins that he wears when he rides his scooter and tries to get through Swiss border controls.) there are other times like this as well. , mainly involving Pacino, the only actor in the group who seems barely inhibited by the forced accent shot. Pacino brings to Aldo the greatness that comes with fortune and power, as well as the sardonic humor that is the natural trait of actors. It adds brilliant flourishes even to sequences as casual as a phone call inviting Rodolfo to his birthday party. Scott strives after such touches of flashiness (call them melodramatic bling), as if dipping the entire production in an element of sensation would compensate for a purely functional storytelling serving in place of characters or ideas.
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