House of Gucci
Updated: Feb 9
House of Gucci
Director: Ridley Scott
When the theme of a movie is the true story of the execution of a Gucci heir by his spoilt and jealous wife … and when it stars such a sterling line up as Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jarod Leto … well, it would be hard for the film not to be a hit.
'House of Gucci' hit me like a Sicilian mafia job.
I always forget how reserved my Anglo heritage is. Always be discrete, don’t talk about family matters outside the family, don’t express your anger publicly, turn the other cheek, and so on and so forth. To be confronted by a biopic containing highly emotional players from the land that brought us opera and all those high drama, high passion, operatic moments we love – I felt decidedly ‘vanilla’. This cultural epiphany was similar to the one I experienced when living in Mexico City one hot summer in the 90's. The altitude and heat were dizzying, and breathing-in the atmosphere of what was (at that time) the second most polluted city in the world made the term 'magico realism' come to life. It was not just a description of a literary genre, but also a heady experience of the everyday :)
But I digress from our film. The 18th century critic Samuel Johnson once described opera as an “exotic and irrational entertainment”. The true story of the Gucci dynasty is exactly that.
Patrizia Regianni (Gaga) is a pretty, sexy young woman who works in her father’s trucking company. She gate-crashes a high society party with a friend one night and accidently meets one of the Gucci clan, the shy young law student Maurizio Gucci (Driver). Patrizia is smitten and literally stalks the young man until Maurizio Gucci begins to fall for her. Patrizia does not have Maurizio’s polish but she has an exuberance of spirit and sexual energy that appeals to his sheltered life. Soon he is equally smitten and when his father (Irons) describes Patrizia as a gold-digger, he renounces his inheritance and joins Patrizia’s father’s company. He becomes one of the many young men messing around with trucks, enjoying life … and is the one who life has shined upon, for he is engaged to the boss’s daughter. This is a particularly special and magic time for the young couple.
Maurizio’s uncle, Aldo Gucci (Pacino) sees photos of his brother’s disowned son and his beautiful new bride on the front of an Italian magazine. He orchestrates a meeting with the young couple and is taken by Patrizia’s raw energy. Fast forward, and we see that he has convinced the young couple to join him in New York, and eventually to join him in running the family business.
The most interesting thing I found in the movie was the subtle character journey of Patrizia. Far from being a gold-digger (as accused by Maurizio’s father when he and son part ways), she is initially portrayed as an earthy and passionate young women who is palpably struck by her love for Maurizio and his sophisticated manners and then, just as palpably struck by the wealth and opulence she encounters as she becomes more and more entrenched in the family life-style. Patrizia’s love for Maurizio is slowly over-taken by her love for extreme wealth, and the lifestyle of privilege with which it is accompanied.
From lovestruck young girl who holds family sacrosanct to murderess (not necessarily mutually exclusive in some Italian families - but definitely more the aberrant than the normal); Patrizia eventually has Maurizio executed by a Sicilian hitman when Maurizio leaves her for another women. This is after she convinces Maurizio (in the better times of their relationship) and Cousin Paolo (Leto) to betray Uncle Aldo to the RIS. She then contrives a police bust on Paolo’s attempt to make his own way under his ‘Gucci’ name. Her slowly changing character is an evolution as subtle and surprising as watching the fictitious character of (television’s) ‘Breaking Bad’ Walter White, turn from pitiable, dying high school teacher into a murderer and drug King Pin.
Do note, the ‘House of Gucci’ takes quite a bit of creative licence, and possibly adheres more to the characterisation of its central figures Patrizia (Gaga), Maurizio (Driver) and Aldo (Pacino), than to the actual time-frame of events of the tragic downfall of this big Italian family.
(*I have to add that Paolo Gucci, the family member who was continually humiliated by his relatives, seemed to be on his own as an adventurous creative. Ahead of his time in a family that had fabulous taste and a knack for acquiring and 'modelling up' what already existed (the Gucci brand was eventually reinvigorated by the installation of gifted designer Tom Ford), Paolo had the imagination to create the new. Paolo sadly died in poverty in London).