“House of Gucci” tells the story behind the 1995 murder of former Gucci chairman Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) by a hitman hired by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). It’s one of that tabloid decade’s most infamous crime scandals, so of course there was a zero percent chance that the film — directed by Ridley Scott — would get a muted response from critics.
But even we’re a bit surprised by the intensity — and disparity — of critical reactions to the film. People have pretty strong opinions, and almost all of them elaborated on that in very entertaining detail. We’ll walk you through some of our favorites below.
THR’s David Rooney, for example, said “House of Gucci” is “a trashtacular watch that I wouldn’t have missed for the world,” but that it’s also “overlong and undisciplined as it careens between high drama and opera buffa.” He also says some of the film’s dramatic moments “recall the gloriously hoary 1980s heyday of ‘Dynasty,’ when the emotions were as big as the shoulder pads and hair,” which alas “gets lost in sloppy execution.”
Great read, and a great burn.
TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde meanwhile calls “House of Gucci” a “tacky” film that “throws good taste out the window.” Which we’ll add is just an excellent way to put it. The film’s depiction “of the Gucci family losing control of their own fashion empire could have been a full-blown camp classic were it not so frequently dull and tentative,” Duralde continues.
Deadline’s Pete Hammond, meanwhile, loved the film. “This sometimes overloaded and overlong but nonetheless highly entertaining saga,” Hammond writes, “delivers the goods, especially with a top-drawer cast throwing it all against the wall.” But that doesn’t mean he thinks it’s classy, suggesting it “might be just the kind of lurid entertainment adults may be craving.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman was positively effusive, calling it a “transfixing fashion tabloid ‘Godfather’ in the headline for a review that produced gems like this: “It may be a drama about a crazy rich Euro chic Old World fashion dynasty, with a cast dominated by American actors scheming and emoting in gaudy Italian accents, but that doesn’t mean it’s some operatic piece of high camp… just because the characters in a drama behave in an over-the-top shameless manner doesn’t mean that the film that’s observing them is over-the-top.”
The L.A. Times’ Justin Chang had this to say about co-star Jared Leto’s performance as Paolo Gucci: “It’s an attention-grabbing stunt; it also works like gangbusters, particularly because Leto’s performance — hilarious, sympathetic, full of tragicomic pathos — feels precisely scaled to the demands of a movie that often revels in its own posh, padded vulgarity.”
But just in case it isn’t clear, Chang adds, “I mean that mostly as praise.”
The New Yorker’s Richard Brody tees up his review with this bon mot: “It is an English-language movie starring an extraordinary cast of American and British actors… who speak in heavily Italian-accented English. This decision renders the movie ridiculous from the start, like a Monty Python parody of the fashion world.”
And he closes it by saying the film, “in its briskly efficient professionalism, is the very exemplar of one-size-fits-all dramaturgy, of off-the-rack cinematic style, of directorial hack work.”
He may have panned “House of Gucci,” but we’ll give that review four stars.
Of course, everyone agrees that Lady Gaga is great in this movie, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be remembered as a particularly brilliant feather in Ridley Scott’s cap. He’s made dozens of brilliant movies, so he’ll be OK. At least he isn’t blaming millennials for this one.