I’m breaking with the usual traditions on this website by running a second piece on Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, which finally appears on DVD this week from Feb 22nd onwards. Why? Initial reviews can only say so much; part of what makes this film so interesting is that the protagonist, Patricia Reggiani, turns out to be a murderer, so this isn’t the usual virtue-signalling awards fare, and that’s a spoiler that wasn’t ripe for discussion back in November. So a think piece is in order, if only to harness some of my continued enthusiasm for this film; I’d reviewed it as a four star film, but it really should have been a five, and I’m happy to take the opportunity to correct myself.
House of Gucci was probably the only adult-orientated hit movie of 2021; selective audiences generally stayed away from everything but Bond and Spiderman, yet the mercurial presence of Lady Gaga seemed to be lure enough to make this a worldwide hit ($150 million+ wordwide), albeit not on the scale that it would without the restraints of pandemic restrictions. Gaga may have shocked her little monster fans by playing a role so different from her A Star is Born breakout, but her ambition should be applauded; while her character here is less likable, it’s an absolute powerhouse performance that netted her everything but the Oscar nomination it fully deserved. The sunglasses, the furry hats, the accessories are all on point, and Scott’s film does wonders by showing that hell really has no fury like a woman scorned. Adam Driver excels in a skilfully underplayed role as the taciturn Maurizio Gucci, but it’s the gallery of support that supercharge this. Al Pacino raises the roof as an old-school hustler Aldo, and Jared Leto’s widely disparaged turn as the hapless Paulo is exactly as it should be; a deliberate call-back to Italian clowning traditions. Seen doing a classic music-hall knock-kneed dance in the DVD extras, he’s the diametric opposite of Gaga’s stealthy shark. Patricia Gucci’s head is turned by the cut-throat world of designer clothes, but her moral descent from a little light signature-forging to full-blown murder makes for a fascinating two and a half hours; this is the ‘alchemy of the actor’ that Gaga describes.
This DVD release comes with copious extras; behind the scenes content The Rise of the House of Gucci, The Lady of The House looks specifically at Gaga’s ‘engine of creativity’, and Styling The House of Gucci looks into the film’s remarkable visual aesthetic created by costumer Janty Yates amongst others. That Oscar snub is a massive missed opportunity for the Academy to platform the best female performance of the year, although with Jennifer Hudson’s work in Respect also missing, she’s in good company. Awards are meant to highlight excellence in cinema rather than streaming, and despite the Gucci’s family’s unhappiness about the film’s content, Lady Gaga was surely the victim of a genuine crime here; she’s a shining light in a witty, vicious, intelligent film about the corrosive meeting of past and present; this DVD is 2022’s must-have fashion accessory.