Review: ‘House of Gucci,’ starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino

November 22, 2021

by Carla Hay

Jared Leto, Florence Andrews, Adam Driver, Lady Gaga and Al Pacino in “House of Gucci” (Photo courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

“House of Gucci”

Directed by Ridley Scott

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1978 to 1997, mostly in Italy and New York City, the dramatic film “House of Gucci” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one Latina and a few Asians) representing the middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: After middle-class Patrizia Reggiani marries into the wealthy Gucci family, family members start to battle over the Gucci empire of luxury goods, resulting in one of the family members getting murdered. 

Culture Audience: “House of Gucci” will appeal primarily to fans of the movie’s star-studded cast, the Gucci brand and tawdry true crime movies.

Jeremy Irons in “House of Gucci” (Photo courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Just like a fake Gucci item, “House of Gucci” is a tacky sham that quickly falls apart. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a high-quality movie, just because of the celebrity names and Oscar pedigrees of the movie’s headlining stars and director. The movie looks good, when it comes to production design, costume design, makeup and hairstyling. But the screenplay is atrocious, the acting is uneven, and director Ridley Scott helmed “House of Gucci” like it’s an idiotic melodrama made for mediocre television, but with a much higher budget than most TV-movies will ever have. (“House of Gucci” even has some laughably bad freeze-frame shots as lazy ways of putting emphasis on a particular emotion.)

It’s all the more reason for viewers to be disappointed that several Oscar winners and Oscar nominees have stepped into this “smoke and mirrors” cesspool of a movie. We all know that the fashion industry is all about image and how someone looks on the outside. That doesn’t mean that a movie about the Gucci empire’s biggest scandal needs to be shallow and superficial too.

The weakest link in “House of Gucci” is the screenplay, written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna. They adapted the screenplay from Sara Gay Forden’s 2000 book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed.” The “House of Gucci” movie is slipshod in certain details, by getting some basic facts wrong about this notorious murder case. And many parts of this movie are surprisingly dull. Don’t expect there to be any riveting scenes of a murder trial in “House of Gucci.” There aren’t any. There’s a poorly written, anti-climactic courtroom scene that’s rushed into the movie.

The Gucci murder case involved a complex group of real-life people, who are mostly reduced to caricatures in the movie. However, a few of the “House of Gucci” cast members make the film watchable because of their performances: Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons and Jared Leto. They stand out for completely different reasons.

Lady Gaga is compelling to watch as the scheming Patrizia Reggiani, who was at the center of the Gucci scandal because Reggiani was convicted of masterminding a murder plot. The details of the Gucci murder case are well-documented, but in case anyone reading this review doesn’t know anything about the case before seeing the movie, this review won’t reveal who was murdered. (Although it’s pretty obvious, when you consider who would have to die for Reggiani to inherit a large share of the Gucci fortune.)

Lady Gaga’s performance as Patrizia Reggiani takes a deep dive into campiness, occasionally comes up for air in earnestness, and sometimes lounges around in limpness. Overall, Lady Gaga has the type of on-screen magnetism that even when Patrizia is doing awful things, it’s with the type of villainous charisma where you know this character is capable of convincing some people that she did very bad things for very good reasons.

A campy performance isn’t necessarily a problem if the rest of the actors are on the same wavelength. Unfortunately, “House of Gucci” director Scott failed to bring a cohesive tone to this movie. Other “House of Gucci” actors give performances that are not campy at all but come across as if they truly believe this is a serious, artsy drama worthy of the highest accolades in the movie industry in every top-level category.

That’s the kind of performance that Adam Driver gives in “House of Gucci,” where he portrays Patrizia’s beleagured husband Maurizio Gucci. Maurizio met Patrizia when he was a law student and had no intention of joining the family business. Driver’s portrayal of Maurizio has the type of personality transformation that actors usually relish.

Maurizio goes from being mild-mannered and easily manipulated when he meets Patrizia while he was in law school to becoming a ruthless and recklessly spending businessman who casts Patrizia aside when he decides to move in with his mistress Paola Franchi (played by Camille Cottin) and divorce Patrizia. Their divorce became final in 1994.

“House of Gucci” makes it look like Maurizio abandoned not only Patrizia but essentially neglected their daughter Alessandra after the divorce. The three actresses who portray Alessandra in “House of Gucci” are Nicole Bani Sarkute (Alessandra at 3 years old); Mia McGovern Zaini (Alessandra at 9 years old); and Clelia Rossi Marcelli (teenage Alessandra).

In reality, Patrizia and Maurizio had two children together: daughters Alessandra (born in 1976) and Allegra, born in 1981. The erasure of Allegra from the movie is just one of the many details that “House of Gucci” gets wrong. The movie also changes the timeline of when Patrizia and Maurizio met and got married. In the beginning of the movie, Patrizia meets Maurizio in 1978. In real life, Patrizia and Maurizio met in 1970 and got married in 1972.

In the “House of Gucci” movie version of Patrizia’s life in 1978, she was working as an office manager for her stepfather’s truck transportation business in Milan, Italy. Patrizia and Maurizio meet at a nightclub party of one of his friends. Maurizio is standing behind the bar, and Patrizia mistakes him for the bartender, so she asks him to fix her a drink. Maurizio thinks that she’s confident and sexy. He tells her that she reminds him of Elizabeth Taylor.

Patrizia seems much more interested in Maurizio when he mentions that his last name is Gucci. Patrizia asks Maurizio if he wants to dance. He says no. The scene then cuts to Patrizia and Maurizio dancing together on the dance floor. Patrizia’s persuasive personality sets the tone for much of their relationship.

It seems like the “House of Gucci” filmmakers decided to change this couple’s courtship to take place in the late 1970s solely for the purpose of having disco music in the movie’s scenes that depict the early years of their relationship. After all, Lady Gaga looks better twirling or slow dancing on a 1978 dance floor where there’s a disco ball and Studio 54-type of partiers, instead of a scene at a 1970 party that would probably have to be staged with a bunch of rich-looking hippies.

Therefore, the “House of Gucci” soundtrack serves up its share of disco music, such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and Donna Summer’s “On the Radio.” Later, when the movie’s timeline goes into the 1980s, the soundtrack features songs such as the Eurythmics hits “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Here Comes the Rain Again.” The soundtrack songs often blare in “House of Gucci” in music-video-styled sequences that further cheapen the look of the movie.

The first sign that Patrizia is willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants is when she stalks Maurizio on campus at his law school. She follows him into a library and pretends to “coincidentally” run into him again. This scene is like something right out of a Lifetime movie. Maurizio has no idea that he’s being targeted, so he goes along with Patrizia’s seduction and is eventually convinced that their relationship is true love.

Irons gives an understated and believable performance as Rodolfo Gucci, Maurizio’s widower father, who is the only Gucci family member who holds on to his dignity in this movie. Rodolfo is immediately suspicious of Patrizia and her intentions for his only child. Rodolfo doesn’t come right out and use the words “gold digger” when he warns Maurizio not to marry Patrizia, but Rodolfo expresses his concerns that Patrizia is not a woman of substance and that she seems to be latching on to Maurizio because of the Gucci family fortune.

Even though Rodolfo vehemently disapproves of Patrizia, it turns out that Rodolfo and Patrizia actually agree on something: They both think that Maurizio should go into the Gucci family business. However, Maurizio’s refusal to follow his father’s wishes leads to him being estranged from Rodolfo for a while.

Maurizio is kicked out of the family home and cut off from his family’s financial support. With nowhere else to go, Maurizio moves in with Patrizia and her parents. Maurizio gets a job working for Patrizia’s stepfather Fernando (played by Vincent Riotta), who’s depicted in the movie as someone who engages in shady business practices.

To put an emphasis on how much Maurizio is estranged from his former life, when Patrizia and Maurizio get married in a church, the movie makes a point of showing that the pews on the bride’s side of the aisle are filled with her family members and friends, while the pews on the groom’s side of the aisle are almost empty. George Michael’s 1987 song “Faith” is played in the movie’s soundtrack after Patrizia and Maurizio exchange vows and walk happily out of the church. This soundtrack choice is an example of more of the movie’s carelessness with details, because the wedding took place years before “Faith” was released and before Michael was even a pop star.

Meanwhile, Rodolfo’s older brother Aldo Gucci (played by Al Pacino, hamming it up in the type of moody roles he’s been doing recently) doesn’t trust Aldo’s dimwitted son Paolo (played by Leto) to be in charge of any part of the family business. Aldo reaches out to Maurizio to come back to the family fold, but Maurizio still hesitates. Patrizia eventually joins forces with Aldo to persuade Maurizio to reconcile with his family and become part of the Gucci business empire. Maurizio eventually agrees, because at this point in his life, he still wants to please Patrizia. For a while, Patrizia and Maurizio made their home base in New York City during Maurizio’s rise in the Gucci business.

More scheming and manipulations ensue, exactly like how you expect them to play out in a movie that is plagued with clumsy clichés. Patrizia and Maurizio are not shown having any meaningful conversations that are not about his family, money or business. In other words, the movie falls short of convincing viewers that Maurizio and Patrizia had a deep emotional love that would make him blind to her gold-digging ways.

Maurizio and Patrizia have a passionate sex life in the beginning of their relationship, so the movie implies that lust, not love, was what really brought this couple together. The sex scenes in “House of Gucci” aren’t very sexy because they look more like parodies of soap-opera-styled sex. Items on tables are shoved aside and crash on the floor to make room on the table for whatever sex act occurs. Any vigorous thrusting doesn’t look erotic but looks more like someone having a robotic workout routine at a gym. And the orgasms sound very fake.

It’s not much of a surprise that “House of Gucci” is a very “straight male gaze” movie where only women’s nude private parts are shown, not men’s nude private parts. And speaking of people in “House of Gucci” in various states of undress, this movie has a semi-obsession with Patrizia being seen in bathtubs or saunas. Apparently, the filmmakers want viewers to think that life is supposed to be more luxurious if you take baths instead of showers.

The supporting characters in “House of Gucci” are either over-the-top ridiculous (Salma Hayek as Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma, a self-described psychic who befriends Patrizia), or bland as bland as can be (Jack Huston as Gucci financial advisor Domenico De Sole; Reeve Carney as fashion designer Tom Ford) with no intriguing personalities. Pina is a stereotypical con artist who gives vague predictions to Patrizia (“I see a big fortune coming your way”) and mystical-sounding advice, such as telling Patrizia that Patrizia should wear more red for “protection” and more green for “cleansing.”

The fashion industry is a mere backdrop to the betrayals and lies that usually originate from Patrizia and spread like a virus to other members of the Gucci family. For example, “House of Gucci” wastes an opportunity to give a fascinating insider’s look at the Gucci empire. Instead, the movie gives trite portrayals of the massive reinvention that the Gucci brand underwent from the 1970s to the 1990s. The movie serves up a fast-food version of what happened on the business side of the Gucci story.

“House of Gucci” unrealistically makes it look like it was only Patrizia who had the business sense to tell the family in the 1980s that it was devaluing the Gucci name by licensing the brand to cheap-quality merchandise, and that they needed to go back to Gucci being synonymous with luxury. The Gucci brand was then repositioned as “hip/trendy” (not old-fashioned) luxury. For all of her supposed business skills, Patrizia isn’t actually showing doing any real work as a so-called Gucci powerhouse. According to this movie, all she seems to be good at doing is telling people what to do.

The “House of Gucci” role of fashion designer Ford, a native of Texas who is credited with helping further reinvent the Gucci brand in the 1990s, is literally a walk-on role: The most memorable things that he does in the movie is give the traditional end-of-show designer stroll on a runway after showing a collection, and when Ford reads a newspaper article that praises him, he walks out of the room to say that he can’t wait to call his mother.

At no point in the movie is anyone in the Gucci empire shown having a strong relationship with Ford, even though he was a driving force at Gucci, where he worked from 1990 to 2004, with most of those years spent as Gucci’s creative director. There are some hints that De Sole had his own agendas and ambitions, but the character is written in a completely boring and hollow way. Unless you’re a fashion aficionado who knows about De Sole and his further ascent in the Gucci empire, you might have a hard time remembering his name after watching this movie.

“House of Gucci” is also problematic in how it portrays women, because the three female characters with the most prominent speaking roles are either villains (Patrizia and Pina) or a mistress (Paola). Vogue magazine editorial executive Anna Wintour (played by Catherine Walker), actress Sophia Loren (played by Mãdãlina Ghenea) and Paolo’s wife Jenny Gucci (played by Florence Andrews) have meaningless cameos in “House of Gucci.” Even back in the 1970s to 1990s, when this movie takes place, women were so much more important in the fashion industry than what “House of Gucci” makes it look like.

Out of all the portrayals of the Gucci men in “House of Gucci,” Leto’s performance as Paolo is the flashiest one. Much of the performance’s standout qualities have to do with the top-notch prosthetics that Leto wears to make him look like a completely different person who is heavier and older than Leto’s real physical appearance. However, Leto does show some actor panache by having an amusing Italian accent, and he plays Paolo’s buffoon role to the hilt, bringing some intentional comedic moments.

Leto’s performance is only marred by some silly-looking scenes, such as when Paolo does an awkward dance of jubilation with Patrizia when she deceives aspiring fashion designer Paolo into thinking that his horrendous fashions are fabulous and worthy of being part of the Gucci brand. It’s the type of scene that looks like something Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd would’ve rejected for their Two Wild and Crazy Guys act on “Saturday Night Live.” Paolo’s words and actions get more cartoonish as the movie goes along. A low point is when Paolo urinates on a Gucci scarf in a fit of anger.

Unfortunately, the best performance efforts by the “House of Gucci” cast members can’t overcome the very cringeworthy screenplay that ruins this movie. In one scene, when Patrizia and Maurizio have an argument, she chokes up with tears and says: “I had no idea I married a monster.” He replies coldly, “You didn’t. You married a Gucci.” In another scene, Pina snarls at someone, “Don’t fuck this up, ’cause I’ll put a spell on you!” In another scene, Paolo says, “Never confuse shit with chocolate. They may look the same, but they’re very different. Trust me, I know!”

The Paolo character might want to warn people not to confuse defecation with chocolate, but viewers should be warned not to confuse “House of Gucci” with being a superb film. For a movie that’s supposed to be about a haute couture/luxury fashion brand, it wallows in the muck of cheap gimmicks, sloppy screenwriting and a lack of self-awareness about how horrendous the worst parts are. The end result is a tawdry mess. And you can’t erase the stink from that.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will release “House of Gucci” in U.S. cinemas on November 24, 2021. “House of Gucci” is set for release on digital and VOD on February 1, 2022. The movie’s release date on Blu-ray and DVD is on February 22, 2022.

2019 CFDA Fashion Awards: Jennifer Lopez, Brandon Maxwell, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen among the winners

June 4, 2019

Jennifer Lopez at the 36th annual CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City on June 3, 2019. (Photo courtesy of BFA)

The following is a press release from Council of Fashion Designers of America:

 

Tom Ford named chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America

March 19, 2019

Tom Ford

The following is a press release from Tom Ford:

The Council of Fashion Designers of America announced today that Tom Ford will be the next Chairman of the CFDA, effective June, 2019.

Ford was ratified by the CFDA Board during a meeting at the CFDA offices earlier today. He succeeds CFDA’s current Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg.

Tom Ford is an award-winning fashion designer, film director, screenwriter, and film producer. In April 2005, the American born designer announced the creation of his eponymous luxury brand, beginning with menswear. Today, the TOM FORD brand offers a complete collection of Menswear, as well as Womenswear, Accessories, Eyewear, Beauty and most recently underwear and timepieces. Ford previously served as the Creative Director of Gucci Group, where he designed for luxury houses Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent until 2004.

Ford, who began his career as a design assistant for CFDA Member Cathy Hardwick, has been a member of the CFDA since 2000. He has won a total of seven CFDA Fashion Awards: Menswear Designer of the Year (2015, 2008), Womenswear Designer of the Year (2001), Accessory Designer of the Year (2002), Board of Director’s Tribute (2004), International Designer of the Year (1995), and the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award (2014). Ford has shown his collections in London, Los Angeles, and New York.

“I have had the privilege of being a member of the American Fashion community for many years and have experienced what the CFDA does for its members and the industry as a whole,” Tom Ford said. “Having lived and worked in each of the global fashion capitals of the world, I look forward to working with the Board of Directors to further the voice of American Fashion and its designers.  As the Chairman, I look forward to continuing the incredible work Diane has done over the last 13 years. Diane is a true force and her contribution to the CFDA and to American fashion is immeasurable. We all owe her a great deal.”

“I am so excited that Tom Ford has agreed to come and lead the CFDA,” Diane von Furstenberg said. “American Fashion could not wish for a better visionary to further grow its impact in the global landscape. Tom is a role model for all of us, and we are very lucky to have him as the next Chairman of the CFDA.”

“Diane has been an incredible partner who helped build CFDA into a world class organization,” CFDA President and CEO Steven Kolb said. “I’m excited to now work with Tom to further strengthen the organization and support American designers with new creative and business opportunities.”

Von Furstenberg was named President of the CFDA in 2006 and became Chairwoman in 2015. Past CFDA Presidents were Stan Herman, Carolyne Roehm, Perry Ellis, Mary McFadden, Bill Blass, Herbert Kasper, Oscar de la Renta, Norman Norell, and Sydney Wragge.

About the CFDA
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962 with a membership with 500 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the organization owns the Fashion Calendar and is the organizer of the Official New York Fashion Week Schedule. It also offers programs which support professional development and scholarships. Member support is provided through the Strategic Partnerships Group, a group of high-profile companies offering designers strategic opportunities. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organized to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes and engage in civic initiatives. For more information, please visit www.CFDA.com, facebook.com/cfda, instagram.com/cfda, twitter.com/cfda, cfda.tumblr.com, and youtube.com/cfdatv

About TOM FORD
In April 2005, Tom Ford announced the creation of the TOM FORD brand. Ford was joined in this venture by former Gucci Group President and Chief Executive Officer Domenico De Sole, who serves as Chairman of the company. In that same year, Ford announced his partnership with Marcolin Group to produce and distribute optical frames and sunglasses, as well as an alliance with Estee Lauder to create the TOM FORD beauty brand. In April 2007, his first directly owned flagship store opened in New York at 845 Madison Avenue and coincided with the debut of the TOM FORD menswear and accessory collection. In September 2010, during an intimate presentation at his Madison Avenue flagship. Ford presented his much-anticipated womenswear collection. Presently there are over 100 freestanding TOM FORD stores and shop-in-shops in locations such as: London, Milan, Zurich, Munich, Rome, New York, Toronto, Beverly Hills, Puerto Banus, Moscow, Osaka, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Baku, Dubai, Tokyo, Seoul, Montreal, San Francisco, Beirut, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New Dehli, Kowloon, Beijing and Sydney.

Tom Ford opens his first beauty store in London

November 21, 2017

The following is a press release from Tom Ford Beauty:

Ton Ford
Tom Ford beauty store in London (Photo courtesy of Tom Ford Beauty)

Debuting on November 20, 2017, the first TOM FORD beauty standalone store is the ultimate in luxury beauté, expressed through Tom Ford’s singular vision. Located in London’s historic Covent Garden (3 The Market Building) this store is a pivotal moment in the evolution of the brand.

The new design of light and layered grey glass sculpture creates a visually arresting play on objects and space while highlighting his collection of makeup, skincare and fragrance for women and men.

Tom Ford’s inimitable touch reverberates in every dimension of the store, beginning with the LED screens lining the façade with the latest campaigns. Halos of light and floating white marble slabs showcase the exquisite design of his products, fully immersing you in the convergence of glamour and technology for the most luxurious retail environment.

A complete vision of the breadth of the world of TOM FORD BEAUTY, each room in the 130 square meter store features its own enhanced shopping experiences, equipped with various digital technologies that unite technical innovation, bespoke sculptural design and the most coveted customer services.

GROUND FLOOR

COLOR ROOM
Discover the latest launches, most wanted colors, and augmented reality, that allow customers to virtually try on shades from the highly coveted lip color collection.

FRAGRANCE ROOM
Enter Tom Ford’s personal scent laboratory, where the brand is transforming how consumers trial fragrance. The room features a dedicated interactive scenting installation where guests can digitally explore the unconventional scents that make up the artisanal Private Blend Collection. A dramming bar offers customized services, from luxury sampling to scent styling.

Explore the Oud and Neroli Portofino Collections, the Tom Ford for Men skincare and grooming collection and a luxury gifting station.

MAKEUP ROOM
An intimate room that offers personalized makeup services and demonstrations by a Tom Ford Beauty Specialist. For the first time, customers can record their makeup applications for use at home as a personalized how-to, sent with a shopping list of products used throughout the service.

LOWER LEVEL

PRIVATE MAKEUP SERVICES ROOM
The Private Makeup Services Room provides appointment-only services bookable online and in store, with Tom Ford Beauty Specialists. The brand offers fragrance customization and makeup services such as application, Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate philosophy, definitive brows, VIP masterclasses and bridal services.

There is also the opportunity to record your customized how-to for these services.

VIP/EVENT SPACE
This is the ultimate space for private cosmetic and fragrance one-to-one consultations.
The sculptural and lighting design and digital screens create the most exclusive space to showcase the products.

GROOMING ROOM
Experience the Tom Ford for Men skincare and grooming collection in London’s most luxurious space for men. Guests can choose from a range of exclusive grooming services by an expert barber, including a Beard Trim, the Express Facial, and a classic hot towel, close-cut Wet Shave, all bookable online at tomfordbeauty.co.uk/appointments.

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