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‘House of Gucci’ is as scandalous as you’d expect, but also introspective and touching

The film, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, works best when it narrows its focus on the towering performances of its leads.

Once you move past the thick Italian accents and the opulence that “House of Gucci” tries hard to project, the movie is a simple love story.

House of Gucci images©Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
Driver and Gaga in “House of Gucci.”

Starring Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, the film adheres pretty closely to those two characters, expanding the narrative only to provide the necessary filler for a story that is based on real-life events. “House of Gucci” is a film based on a book, one that ultimately has to account for the legacy of the fashion brand, and that has to deliver on that very notorious murder.

Kicking off in the ‘70s and closely trailing Patrizia, the film follows her as a young and slightly cunning woman, who, upon first meeting Maurizio and hearing his last name, wants nothing more than to get him to fall in love with her. Still, it would be a disservice to Lady Gaga’s work to say that her version of Patrizia is the cunning and manipulative woman the press has been depicting for decades. Gaga’s Patrizia is multifaceted; while obviously cunning and power-hungry, she is primarily a woman in love. When she starts scheming and trying to get Maurizio involved in the Gucci business, the viewer never forgets that while she may be lured by the money, the clothes, and the parties, she wants what’s best for Maurizio and believes that he is capable of taking on these challenges. That is until their relationship starts to turn sour.

House of Gucci images©Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
Driver and Gaga in “House of Gucci.”

While Gaga adds layers to Patrizia, Driver strips them of Maurizio. He plays him as an honest, simple and quite ungraceful guy, straightforward to a limiting degree, one that ends up robbing him of his business and ultimately his life. While the film has plenty of room in it for bombastic performances (and delivers them every couple of minutes) Driver is content with playing Maurizio as a man who ends up carrying his family’s name and legacy without wanting to, who, after years of money and privilege, ends up becoming the sad and ambitious man he was always meant to be. As the minutes tick by and the film develops, Driver imbues Maurizio with a disillusionment for his life, painting a man who falls out of love with Patrizia simply because he’s bored or because he finally realizes that they were never meant to be. Maurizio was never a match for Patrizia’s cunning; his murder is evidence of that from the beginning. Still, watching the movie twist and turn around it for over two hours is as entertaining as the trailer made it out to be, but also surprisingly moving.

“House of Gucci” is an epic, like a 600 page novel with a hook at the end of each chapter that makes you say, “Okay, let’s stick with this a little bit more, let’s see where this is going.” Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, and Jared Leto all deliver instantly memorable performances, encouraged to be as wild as possible, to hilarious and entertaining results. But, after witnessing twist after twist and amazing performance after amazing performance, the winning combination is the one that the film first placed its bet on: Gaga and Driver, playing with and against each other, falling in and out of love in ways that feel all too real.

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