Review: House Of Gucci is a designer drama
HOUSE OF GUCCI (15, 158 mins)
Drama/Romance. Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Camille Cottin, Vincent Riotta. Director: Ridley Scott.
In cinemas from today.
Rating: Four stars
IN the mid-1990s, relatively unknown Texan designer Tom Ford revitalised ailing Italian fashion house Gucci with his figure-hugging outfits that left little to the imagination and seduced the eyes of influential newspaper and magazine editors.
His bold, unapologetically sensual outfits were in stark contrast to the conservative brand aesthetic of the family-owned luxury brand under founder Guccio Gucci and his three sons, Aldo, Vasco and Rodolfo.
Ford's headline-grabbing introduction to the fold is one of the titillating centrepieces of director Ridley Scott's lavish crime drama scripted by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna from Sara Gay Forden's book The House Of Gucci: A Sensational Story Of Murder, Madness, Glamour, And Greed.
That tug-of-war between tradition and flamboyance, which wrestled Gucci back from the brink of financial ruin, epitomises the dual personalities vying for attention in Scott's uneven but beguiling picture.
Look no further than the wildly contrasting performances of Lady Gaga and Jared Leto: the former simmering quietly with ambition and murderous intent as an outsider who marries into the family, the latter maniacally mangling every vowel as a misunderstood creative genius from the Gucci bloodline, who demands he be allowed to soar "...like a pigeon."
Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) is working at her father's haulage firm when she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), grandson of Guccio Gucci, at a party.
Infatuation piqued by the famous surname, Patrizia stalks Maurizio and worms her way into his affections to secure a seat at the dynastic table headed by Maurizio's disapproving father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) and uncle Aldo (Al Pacino).
To wield greater influence, Patrizia marries Maurizio and encourages him to "take out the trash" at boardroom level so they can acquire a majority stake in the company.
Self-styled television psychic Pina (Salma Hayek) provides scheming minx Patrizia with counsel as her plan pits the couple against Maurizio's extrovert cousin Paolo (Leto).
"I'd rather see Gucci burn than hand it over to you two," he snarls.
When Maurizio publicly undermines Patrizia and flirts with old friend Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin), the vengeful wife sets in motion a murderous plan to shed the emotional baggage that is slowing her ascent of the social ladder.
House Of Gucci stomps the runway to a glorious 1990s soundtrack including a wedding choreographed to George Michael's Faith.
Lady Gaga is mesmerising as a master manipulator, who believes that "a strong family makes a strong business" as she assiduously lops off the weakest branches of her marital family tree.
Leto is hysterical and scenes with Pacino are a battle of the caterwauls.
Caught between tragedy and high camp, Scott's picture is impeccably tailored to appeal to the widest possible audience without genuinely thrilling any of us.