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The Conservative Critic

Oscar Watch: Is House of Gucci Even Gucci?



I did not get a chance to see House of Gucci when it was in theaters. Recently it has become available to stream for a fee on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. Just in time to review for Oscar season. 

In this case, the review is in light of an Oscar snub instead of an Oscar nomination. Though the film did garner a nomination for its makeup work, its leading lady, Lady Gaga as Petrizzia Reggiani/Gucci, did not receive the Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination that everyone was expecting. 

Was the snub deserved? The conservative critic will ask: is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda? 

The Conservative Critic Meter Check: House of Gucci 

Overall Rating: Great

House of Gucci is a campy and one-sided view of a previously little known (to my generation) scandal involving the famous and coveted Gucci brand of clothing. 

Personal note: I am a sucker for a brand bio, though, typically I have enjoyed them in literature. I can recommend to readers both The Cartiers and The Bettencourt Affair the former about the rise of the famous fine jewelers and the latter about the well known L’Oreal brand family and heir. I love them because as much as we all know and love brands, typically we don’t know anything about them or the people who are part of their identity and how they shaped the world we know. A brand bio to me almost retells a history I took for granted. So I went in with a bias to the genre. 

House of Gucci unveils the cutthroat fashion industry and introduces viewers to a history that they probably didn’t know about. It takes a personal and specific point of view which is both sympathetic and wholly unflattering to the convicted murderer Patrizia Reggiani, casting her as the lead and heroine but also draping her in delusion and borderline psychopathy. Combined with the dazzling Italian surroundings, streamlined story and brilliant supporting talent, Gaga leads House of Gucci to a smart and fun place. 

Is it entertaining? 

Rating: Wacky and Fun 

The film has a lot of twists and turns as the Gucci family tussles over the future of their brand and the succession of leadership within their organization. Viewers are treated to a fast paced and endlessly glamorous Italian lifestyle which seems based more on the imagination of Gucci’s Italy than the reality of Gucci’s Italy but what a lovely dream. Between the Italian sports cars, organized crime, designer clothes and cheeky one-liners, viewers are swept away with the life and drama of the Gucci family. 

The film does seem to cover similar ground a few times repetitively lending it a bit of a slower pace than it needed. At 2 hours and 38 minutes, there was a lot of room for editing to pick up the pace and let viewers leave on a high. 

Does it have intellectual/artistic value? 

Rating: Very strong 

With Ridley Scott at the helm, House of Gucci was designed to be a flashy but slow twist of the knife. Something Scott does so well is creating an unexpected sense of fear and unease. In his greatest work, Blade Runner, he gives us the absolutely jarring Pris versus Decker scene which haunts me to this very day. In House of Gucci, a film quite different in intention and in execution than Blade Runner, there are still reverberations of that uncanny ability of his to unsettle viewers. Lady Gaga’s Patrizia descends from aspirational, wise-talking heroine into darkly sinister and unhinged maniac so quietly viewers barely notice it’s happened until they’re shivering. This is a testament to Lady Gaga but also to Scotts ability to work material to its fullest potential. 

Per the Oscar nomination, the design of the film is flawless. Actors like Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club) as Paolo Gucci are unrecongizable behind their makeup, preostehtics and styling. 

Beyond Lady Gaga, the acting is phenomenal and actually I think the Oscar snubs extend beyond Gaga. Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci brings an iconic veteran class of skill and menacing to the family patriarch. Adam Driver (Rise of Skywalker, Marriage Story) as Maurizio Gucci is totally transformed even without the heavy makeup and prosthetics of some of his colleagues. Both gentlemen deserve a place on the Oscar roster in my opinion 

The only drawback from the film’s quality is the occasional flop in the one-liners delivered by Patrizia. Some of them work and seem fun and quirky and others really feel forced and quite unlikely making the exchanges seem a little cheesy. Further some of the interpretation of Italian culture seems to move beyond camp or surrealist revisionism and into stereotype and not in a good way. A lot of critics raved for Leto’s Paulo Gucci but it dances very close to offensive if it doesn’t fall all the way over. 

Is it liberal propaganda? 

Rating: Agenda Free

There was no apparent political agenda in the film that I could devise except maybe in a stretch the celebration of Tom Ford who once rudely would not dress first Lady Melania Trump (he back-tracked saying he meant because his clothes were not made in America and he also would not dress Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady for the same reason).

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