BRUCE R. MILLER
No movie had a bigger surprise at the Oscars this week than “House of Gucci.”
Bound to win acting nominations and, certainly, craftsmanship recognition, he emerged into the race with a nod — for hairstyles and makeup.
That’s a shock, considering it was a movie that Lady Gaga outsold a concert at Madison Square Garden. And, rightly so.
Weaving her way through the rambling film, Gaga created a Patrizia Reggiani who was just as powerful as the family that built a luxury leather goods empire. In many ways, his Patrizia was the reason they had to deal with the discord that tore them apart.
It was she who made her way into Maurizio’s life and charmed Aldo (Al Pacino), understood Paolo (Jared Leto) and sparked an ascent from the ashes.
Unfortunately, Maurizio (Adam Driver) didn’t see the company return in the same light. He grew tired of his wife, picked up any icy blonde (Camille Cottin) and rewrote company history with himself as the hero.
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The film is practically destined to attract the attention of the Oscars. Still, you can see the flaws: director Ridley Scott spends considerable time showing people as strangers and schemers, then he gets to the real story at hand: the fall of the Gucci house, from the inside .
Like a Ryan Murphy miniseries, “House of Gucci” has too much padding, especially since we don’t get the real juice until the last half hour. When we see what happens, Scott rushes to an ending that could have given Gaga another jaw-dropping scene.
Part Sophia Loren, part Momma Rose, Gaga overwhelms everyone — even when she’s underappreciated. In the scenes with Pacino and Leto blowing up a storm, she wins. It’s an amazing gift that makes you wonder what she could do with other showy roles.
Considering he doesn’t bring the bomb, Driver is good too. He looks like a typical ‘son of’, just standing around while others make the big decisions. He’s at odds with his father (expertly played by Jeremy Irons), who’s just as much of a parasite as the rest. Living in the past, Iron’s Rodolfo still considers himself a matinee idol, watching movies in his mansion like a Reagan-era Norma Desmond.
Not all spicy moments, however, form a satisfying whole. “House of Gucci” even slips through the cover that designer Tom Ford orchestrated.
Salma Hayek, as a fortune teller who serves as an advisor to Patrizia, is just a filler. She shuffles the cards and goes to the spa, but she doesn’t play a role beyond connecting the dots.
The joker is Leto, who isn’t afraid to fool around. Unrecognizable, he tries to convince those close to him that he is a creative genius, someone who could restore glory to the brand. Had he realized how precious Patrizia is, he could have struck a pact and propelled Gucci to new heights. Instead, he’s the family jester, good for a laugh but a bit more.
Now, thanks to Oscar, this performance, like Gaga’s, is going to be a footnote.