Review: Scandals rock ‘House of Gucci’

“House of Gucci” is director Ridley Scott’s feature film adaptation of the 2001 book by Sara Gay Forden. The biographical crime drama includes Adam Driver and Oscar-winners Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jared Leto and Jeremy Irons as relatives wrestling for control of the famed Italian luxury goods brand.

A car drives by a Gucci store at night. Contributed / Dima Pechurin via

BAXTER — Doing business with family can be murder.

Maurizio Gucci found out the hard way. His assignation made headlines because he was one of the grandsons of Guccio Gucci, founder of the famed fashion house that bears their name.

RELATED: Now showing at Lakes 12 Theatre

“House of Gucci” is a feature film adaptation of a book that was “inspired” by the true events culminating in the 1995 murder of the 46-year-old heir to the Gucci luxury goods empire.

The ensemble cast includes Oscar-winners Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons, and Adam Driver as various members of the wealthy, powerful Italian family.


"House of Gucci" features an ensemble cast in the motion picture portrayal of a family's struggle for power and control over the Italian luxury goods brand. The new release is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Clocking in at almost two hours and 40 minutes, the R-ration biographical crime drama film directed by Ridley Scott takes its time coming to its inevitable conclusion.

But as the saying goes, it’s not the destination but the journey that’s important, and along the way the movie delves into perhaps the juiciest and salacious aspects of one family’s struggle for power.

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“It was a name that sounded so sweet, so seductive ... synonymous with wealth, style, power. But that name was a curse, too,” Patrizia Reggiani says in a voiceover in the film, now playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter.

In musician Lady Gaga’s follow-up to her acting role in the 2018 remake “A Star Is Born” with co-star and director Bradley Cooper, she attacks the role of Reggiani with gusto.

The Grammy winner doesn’t sing in “House of Gucci” but her uncanny likeness to the villainess — or arguably tragic wife and mother — and dedication to the role are apparent.


The stylish picture also includes a period-appropriate soundtrack of that era’s greatest pop hits, like George Michael’s “Faith” when working-class Reggiani marries Maurizio Gucci in church.

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The bevy of Oscar-winners in Scott’s adaptation of "The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed” by Sara Gay Forden is an embarrassment of riches.

But it is Gaga’s powerhouse portrayal of a rags-to-riches outsider who wants to so badly become a Gucci insider that drives the film and Reggiani to the brink of madness and over it.

“It was a name that sounded so sweet, so seductive ... synonymous with wealth, style, power. But that name was a curse, too.”

— Patrizia Reggiani

Pacino and Irons play Aldo Gucci and Rodolfo Gucci, respectively, two of the five sons of Guccio Gucci, the businessman and fashion designer known for luxury leather accessories.

Driver plays Maurizio Gucci, Rodolfo’s son, while Leto plays Paolo, Aldo’s son, making the younger Gucci cousins heirs who unsurprisingly fight each other as to how to run the company.


The luxury goods of the famed Italian-based fashion house are visible through the glass doors of a Gucci store. Contributed / Julien Tondu via

Scott’s take on Forden’s book plays out like a trashy but stylish soap opera, a feature film-length “The Real Housewives of …” and reminiscent of old TV primetime soaps like “Dallas” or “Dynasty.”

Leto deserves a special shoutout as a nearly unrecognizable and buffoonish Gucci scion with delusions of grandeur who has a Fredo-like role for those familiar with “The Godfather” movies.

“Gucci needs new blood. It's time to take out the trash.”

— Patrizia Reggiani

There is no shortage of suspects who may have wanted Maurizio Gucci dead and the movie takes time to delve into their reasons and motivations for perhaps wanting him out of their way.

Not surprisingly, the real-life and surviving descendants of the Gucci family are disappointed about the big screen’s depiction of their legacy and unflattering portrayal of their relatives.


"The production of the film did not bother to consult the heirs before describing Aldo Gucci ... and the members of the Gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive ... attributing to the protagonists, events, a tone and an attitude that never belonged to them," according to a Gucci family statement.

“House of Gucci” currently holds a 61% approval rating among critics and an 83% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The audience consensus reads: “It can be slow going, but ‘House of Gucci’ adds up to a fascinating story — and Lady Gaga's performance is a knockout.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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