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Almost Gaga for Gucci

Posted by August 2nd, 2022 No Comments »

House of Gucci (2021)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino and Jared Leto

Who knew that “Girl at Swimming Pool #2” in a 2001 episode of The Sopranos (TV Series) would go on to become not only a pop icon but an accomplished actor as well? I didn’t, and, if you say you did, you’re either lying or you’re related to her.

Lady Gaga wowed me with her performance as Ally in A Star is Born (2018). It was a more callenging role than playing a version of her media persona in the American Horror Story (TV Series) and it earned her a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. After that, we all waited patiently to see which part she’d take on next.

Patrizia Reggiani is a public figure, and, if you want to spoil the film, go ahead and google her name. Or wait until after you watch House of Gucci to do a deep dive into the drama surrounding this famous family. If you’ve made it this far you might as well hold off and give yourself a chance to be riveted throughout this excellent film, like I was. Gaga’s performance as Reggiani had me convinced from the jump that she was a young Italian social climber ready to dig some gold.

Ridley Scott released two films last year and his visual fingerprints are all over The Last Duel. Less so with House of Gucci. Perhaps the director was looking to shed some of his trademark visual bravado? Or maybe he wanted to let the actors provide the scenery through their angst-ridden faces and furious diatribes?

As Aldo, Al Pacino once again plays an Italian man prone to tirades and maybe that’s because he does it so, so well. Adam Driver plays Aldo’s nephew, a very different type of Italian man. One that seems weak and aloof when he first meets Patrizia. His story arc is the most interesting of any character in the film and, once the drama transforms into melodrama, Driver’s artistic range really shines through.

House of Gucci progresses from melodrama to tragedy in its final act, in which Gaga holds her own when she’s on screen with Driver. Even more impressive are her scenes with Salma Hayek, who plays a Gucci family underworld contact named Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma. Gaga’s seething rage and bitterness make great counterparts to Hayek’s Auriemma, who just wants to fan the flames and watch as Patrizia’s world burns.

This wouldn’t be a complete NON-SPOILER review if I didn’t mention Jerod Leto as Paolo Gucci, Maurizio’s cousin. Much has been said about this performance and I was lucky to see the film before listening to any of the talking heads. Leto did exactly what Ridley Scott wanted him to do: be the visual scenery. There are no gladiator fights, no shootouts or alien races in this film, but there are the melodramatic, overly tragic facial expressions from the Gucci family’s black sheep. And Leto’s performance is enough to distract you from the fact that you are indeed viewing a Ridley Scott film that isn’t meeting your visual expectations.

What did meet my expectations in Ridley Scott’s second-best film of 2021? It was a well-acted film about famous characters I knew nothing about. If The Last Duel is an A+ and Lady Gaga’s breakout roll in A Star is Born (2018) was a B+, then House of Gucci a B.

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