From: Silver Screen

REVIEW: Lady Gaga shines in a galvanizing ‘House of Gucci’

REVIEW: Lady Gaga shines in a galvanizing ‘House of Gucci’
Lady Gaga as “Patrizia Reggiani” in “House of Gucci.”

Perhaps you already knew this, but Lady Gaga can act. 

Considering she broke into Hollywood by playing a struggling singer turned pop star in the 2018 remake of “A Star is Born,” it was questionable whether her success in that film was nothing more than a fluke. But in “House of Gucci,” Gaga proves she is an undeniable screen presence and an actor with unmeasurable range and depth.

In Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, the ambitious young Italian woman who imploded the world’s most notorious fashion house when she married into the family business and slashed her way to the top. 

Scott, who is best known for helming such epics as “Gladiator” and “The Martian,” brings his eye for large-scale production into this melodramatic chamber piece, striking a sweet balance between grand and intimate.

The film is a lush visual treat throughout, sprawling from lavish lakeside estates in Italy to the center of wealthy 1980s Manhattan. Scott and his production designer Arthur Max bring forth one luxurious set piece after the other, while costume designer Janty Yates successfully recreates some of Gucci’s most iconic and glamorous silhouettes. Together these craftsmen create a world that exudes opulence and works as a visual reminder of the economic stakes that drive the character’s wild ambitions.

The story centers around Patrizia, who comes from humble beginnings but dreams of a life filled with success. Her entire world changes when she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). Maurizio is the heir to the House of Gucci, a family-owned luxury fashion brand based out of Florence, Italy. He is wealthy, handsome and everything Patrizia could ever hope for. However, as Patrizia infiltrates Maurizio’s extravagant life, her hunger for success only grows stronger. She realizes that in order to secure her fortune, she must eradicate all of the men in the House of Gucci who stand in her way.

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Over the course of the film, Gaga morphs from naive to conniving to downright pathetic. She easily maneuvers a wide range of emotions, taking the audience on a journey of incredible highs and shocking lows. Gaga’s performance is nothing short of surprising.

As Maurizio, Driver is perfectly sweet and charming until his ambition gets the best of him. He then reveals himself to be more cold and calculated than anyone could have imagined. But Gaga and Driver’s chemistry is undeniable throughout the film. There are genuine moments of love that pass between them, and they are passionate and considerate with each other, until they aren’t.

Al Pacino and Jared Leto give memorable supporting performances as Maurizio’s slippery uncle Aldo and his bumbling fool of a cousin named Paolo. Much of the film’s humor comes from Pacino and Leto, who are an unexpectedly triumphant pairing. 

Leto’s performance is especially unique because it appears to be an homage to the Italian commedia dell’arte. Hidden behind a plush body suit and a bald cap, Leto brings forth the serio-comic clown that is Paolo.

Pacino is the real secret weapon in “House of Gucci.” At one point in the film, Patrizia pits father and son against each other by convincing Paolo to unveil his father’s darkest secrets. In a phone call between Paolo and Aldo, Pacino reminds us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time: notice the way his eyes waver and his confidence falls after Paolo threatens to expose his tax evasions to the IRS. It’s a brief moment in a long film, but this beautiful stroke of subtly by Pacino lives up to the excellence we’ve come to expect from him throughout his lauded career.

After much familial backstabbing and betrayal, the film ends with a literal bang. The House of Gucci goes from being a family-run operation to not having a single Gucci family member to its name. The end result is a true-crime parable about reckless ambition and poisonous greed.

But while “House of Gucci” is a fun and wild ride, it’s not without its flaws. The editing by Claire Simpson fails to smoothly transfer between the story’s several tonal shifts, and Scott could have been more generous in his cutting of the film, as the final product is just too long. Additionally, none of the actors seem to commit to the accents on the same level. However, this does not detract from their great performances so much as it pulls focus from the storytelling itself.

With a production this gorgeous and a cast this star-studded, “House of Gucci” is a thoroughly enjoyable trip to the movies. If not for anything else, it’s worth it to see Gaga transition from pop-sensation into bona fide movie star.

“House of Gucci” was released in theaters on Nov. 24.

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