By Sam Acosta
When I first saw the trailer for “House of Gucci,” I knew I had to see it. Not only does it have many big names attached, but the “rise-of-an-empire” type of film is one I enjoy immensely. Yet as I sat through the film’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime, I felt myself becoming more and more disappointed. While there are great performances and much potential, poor pacing and a mediocre script cause the film to trip over itself.
The one thing that this film gets right is its casting. Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto Al Pacino, and Jeremy Irons all do a wonderful job elevating the material given to them to something palatable and interesting. I felt connected with most of these characters at one time or another, and Lady Gaga and Adam Driver’s chemistry creates some of the film’s biggest highlights.
I feel obligated to talk about Lady Gaga as an actress. I didn’t see her as having any sense of acting talent until 2018 when she headlined “A Star Is Born” alongside Bradley Cooper in an incredibly touching performance. Her precise ability to portray true emotion has only improved since then, even though the material she is working with this time around is not nearly as strong. Lady Gaga puts in the work to squeeze every ounce of emotion and depth out of her role, making her this film’s MVP.
Lady Gaga’s stellar performance as protagonist Patrizia Reggiani makes her this film’s MVP.
It also would be remiss if I didn’t mention the film’s beautiful costuming and locations, which create an engaging atmosphere for the actors to perform in. The contrast between the Italian countryside and the bustling cities helps convey the lavish lifestyle of the Gucci family.
Sadly, these are the only things in the film that feel convincing. The rest of the film either falls flat or feels like driving over a speed bump in the middle of a highway. I was truly disappointed that the renowned Ridley Scott, who helped create such iconic movies as “Gladiator” and “Blade Runner,” seems to have utterly dropped the ball on this project. What truly kills the story’s momentum is its lackluster script and clunky pacing.
There is seemingly no sense of coherence to the plot, as there are too many complexities and different perspectives presented all at once. While Gaga’s Patrizia is indisputably the protagonist, the film tries to give us a look into the lives of Maurizio (Adam Driver) and Paolo (Jared Leto) as well. While I appreciate the attempt, its botched execution simply leaves me wishing these subplots weren’t there at all.
It felt like smaller yet more substantial aspects of the script were given too little attention compared to larger but more shallow aspects. For example, it felt as if Patrizia’s plan to assassinate Maurizio was tacked on rather than being a part of the larger story.
In the same vein, the script is filled with some rather odd and unnecessary plot points. For example, Paulo’s story arc takes up a significant amount of the runtime and yet contributes very little to the overarching story.
Many subplots, including the one involving Jared Leto’s Rodolfo, feel superfluous and ultimately weigh the film down.
A large part of his story revolves around his family thinking he has no talent, despite him being convinced that he is a true artist. One specific scene shows him trying to ally with Rodolfo; after being rebuffed, he proceeds to urinate on a scarf that Rodolfo designed. This moment just is one among many where “House of Gucci” takes a lot of time to say almost nothing at all.
The best analogy to describe “House of Gucci” would be if you sat down for a wonderful home-cooked thanksgiving dinner but could only eat a crumb of each thing on the table. The potential is all there, yet they give you so many tiny pieces of greater wholes that it all just becomes extremely mediocre.
I wanted to love this film, to be able to argue that this film would be a strong Oscar contender. But honestly, I find it hard to argue that it is worth the price of the ticket.
“House of Gucci” is currently available to see in theaters.
Sam Acosta is a Junior Theatre Comprehensive Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing.