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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 26, 2022



LOOKS LIKE fashion icons are a favorite subject on screen. 

There have been several films about Coco Chanel and Yves St. Laurent. Dior and Valentino have a movie each. There are award-winning series on Versace and Halston. 

And now, we have “House of Gucci”, based on a 2001 book whose subtitle is “A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed”. 

And this is exactly what Director Ridley Scott gives us in his film version of the book. This is his second film for 2021 after “The Last Duel”. 

The film is worth seeing mainly for Lady Gaga’s engaging portrayal of Patrizia Reggiani, the main character. 

The film starts in 1978 when Patrizia, a young woman who works in her dad’s trucking company, meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver, who also plays a main role as a Frenchman in “The Last Duel” and is now an Italian in this movie), son of Rodolfo Gucci, whose family owns the well known fashion brand. 

Maurizio is a shy law student and it’s Patrizia who makes all the aggressive  moves to get him. 

His dad (Jeremy Irons) tells him Patrizia is only after their family’s fortune and he will disown him if he’d marry her. 

But Maurizio still marries Patrizia, leaving their family to work with the trucking company of Patrizia’s family. 

Rodolfo has a brother, Aldo (Al Pacino), who owns one half of the Gucci company. Aldo has his own son, Paolo (an unrecognizable Jared Leto), who wants to be a famous designer but lacks talent. 

Aldo is fond of Patrizia and is so happy when he finds out that Patrizia will have a baby. The baby becomes the instrument for Maurizio to reconcile with his dad. 

Patrizia then becomes a controlling force of nature in the life of Maurizio and eventually, he rebels. 

Patrizia becomes more manipulative in trying to gain more control of the Gucci empire. 

Their once sweet love affair turns so sour and Maurizio cultivates an affair with an old friend, Paola Franchi (Camille Cotin.) He dumps Patrizia and rejects all her attempts to reconcile with him. 

A poor business manager, he bungles up their company and eventually cuts ties with Aldo and Paolo.

 He teams up with new designer Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) to come up with a new line that will revive Gucci’s image. 

It becomes successful but Maurizio has so mismanaged the company that his associates offer to buy him out in favor of Tom Ford.

Ford has since become a filmmaker himself, having directed the acclaimed 2009 film, “A Single Man”, and the Venice Filmfest grand jury prize winner in 2016, “Nocturnal Animals”. 

Maurizio also asks Patrizia for divorce and she is so outraged that she plots to kill him with the help of her psychic adviser, Pina (Salma Hayek), who helps her hire some assassins from Sicily. 

They manage to shoot Maurizio to death in broad daylight and this is the last big scene in the film.

After this, things are rushed showing the trial of Patrizia, Pina and the hired killers, who are all sentenced to jail. End credit captions tell us what happens to the other characters. 

Paolo died poor after losing all his Gucci shares and his dad Aldo died of prostate cancer. 

Gucci as a company became controlled by a group of private investors, Investcorp, which is successfully managing it up to now, with no single Gucci family member remaining in the company.

 This is just like what happened to Halston, whose name was retained but he was completely eased out of the company. How sad.

More than anything else, Lady Gaga proves that her Oscar-nominated film debut in “A Star is Born” is not a fluke.  

Her show-stopping portrayal of the predatory outsider and scorned wife whose uninhibited ambition brings the Gucci family into a shocking spiral of betrayal, revenge and eventually, murder, is just terrific to watch. 

After her, Jared Leto has the most attention-getting role putting on a fat suit and wearing tons of prosthetic makeup as the dumb cousin Paolo. 

He delivers his lines with a faux Italian accent and we’re sure some folks would be annoyed by his interpretation, but we find it amusingly over the top. 

Adam Driver has little chemistry with Lady Gaga and we don’t really know what Ridley Scott sees in him. Jeremy Irons is given little to do and is wasted as the dying Rodolfo. 

He doesn’t even look like Adam Driver. Or even Al Pacino as his brother. Pacino actually plays a bigger role as Aldo, but he’s just a ghost of his heydays as Michael Corleone and just hams it up in a supporting role. 

Salma Hayek plays a big role as the fortune-teller that Lady Gaga religiously consults but she fails to sizzle in it. She could have invested it with more scandalous sensationalism as Patrizia’s partner crime in the murder of Maurizio. 

As a whole, the film seems to be a missed opportunity and is not so well crafted. Ridley’s direction is uninspired, just like his insipid work in that film about another tycoon, J. Paul Getty, in “All the Money in the World”.  

The movie runs for nearly three hours, with so many boring parts that could have been shortened to quicken the pacing. 

This could have been a prestige project and Scott could have done well if he injected  more watchable campy fun in it, but he chose to play it straight, with his tone dead serious, and the film is actually quite a messy excess of soapy drama.