Reviews of ‘House of Gucci’ are mixed, but agree Lady Gaga’s performance is huge
The reviews for House of Gucci have finally come in, and they appear almost as conflicted as the Gucci family themselves. However, the one thing most critics agree on is that Lady Gaga’s performance is something to behold.
Directed by Ridley Scott, House of Gucci is a biographical crime drama concerning Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), her eventually ex-husband Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), and the family behind the Gucci luxury fashion house. And, of course, a very high-profile murder.
House of Gucci‘s trailers might have made one expect a camp, highly dramatic and over-the-top film, however the reality seems to be slightly more moderate. Reviewers noted House of Gucci never quite pushes itself into being unapologetically camp, but also doesn’t let itself be completely grounded and serious, leaving it awkwardly straddling the two. Many also agreed that the film noticeably drags in its second half, with Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson calling its last third “an epilogue stretched out to 45 minutes.”
However, Gaga’s scenery-chewing performance has been commended as “magnetic,” and in some ways the saving grace of House of Gucci. And while the star-studded cast including Driver, Jared Leto, and Al Pacino may sometimes feel as though they’re all acting in different films, the spectacle of everyone revelling in their outsized performances is enough to at least make House of Gucci entertaining.
Here’s what critics have to say about House of Gucci:
Kristy Puchko from Mashable writes:
There’s a joyful campiness to House of Gucci that is firmly established by the pop star turned movie star’s performance. As portrayed in the film, Patrizia is a self-made diva, whose bombastic personality brought her love, fortune, and ultimately infamy. Why tamp any of that down with a grounded performance? Instead, Gaga has the strut of Marilyn Monroe, and the animated facial expressions and cheeky one-liners of a top-notch drag queen…Her performance is outrageous, but that’s the point. It’s to urge audiences to see Patrizia as she desires to be seen: A goddess of glamor, passion, and vengeance when called for.
Katie Rife from A.V. Club writes:
[Y]ou’d have to squint pretty hard to see a howling high-camp romp in House Of Gucci. Instead, what we get is a fact-based family melodrama, and a rather meandering one at that…
The movie could easily become too much as well. That it doesn’t is both admirable and disappointing. On the one hand, Gucci comes so close to flowering into something bonkers that its more moderate tendencies feel like a tease. On the other hand, keeping the movie itself in check gives Gaga’s star an opportunity to burn even brighter: She might not deliver the most subtle performance, but she’s certainly magnetic. In the end, however, Patrizia Reggiani’s Wikipedia page is more entertaining than the middle hour of House Of Gucci.
Alex Godfrey from Empire writes:
[House of Gucci] is not interested in subtlety. Everything that happens is out-sized, and pretty much every performance is huge…
Despite the story’s operatic sweep, despite its undeniably Shakespearean entanglements, it feels oddly undramatic, the filmmaking itself quite detached. And certainly, despite all the catastrophe, you won’t be shedding tears over anybody, but maybe that’s the point?…
It’s hard to take House Of Gucci seriously, because it never seems to take itself seriously. Yet with such glee being had by those involved, it’s an infectious, bizarro bit of fun.
Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly writes:
Ridley Scott is not a man built for minimalism: His House does pretty much everything to the max, a chaotic bellissimo romp of a movie so stuffed with oversized characters and telenovela twists that it feels less like a biopic than a duty-free Dynasty…
Gucci might have been a better movie if it had fully committed to the high camp its Blondie-soundtracked trailer promised. It’s more serious than that, at least intermittently; a strange melange of too much and not enough… But even a House divided is still more fun than it probably should be: a big messy chef’s kiss to money and fashion and above all, movie stars — criming and scheming like they have nothing left to lose, until it’s true.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes writes:
[I]s the movie any good? Alas, no… [It] is a long and lumbering 2.5-hour movie that details most of the most interesting story elements and character beats in its first hour. [B]eyond the momentary spectacle of seeing Gaga try to play three-dimensional chess with her in-laws, the whole business subplots frankly don’t amount to much…
There’s good stuff in House of Gucci, especially in the first hour as we get the best of both worlds in terms of business and pleasure. But the film runs out of gas relatively early… Absent the Oscar race and the rarity of such big-scale adult dramas of this nature in an IP-driven world, House of Gucci would merely be a bad movie with some strong moments amid an excellent ensemble.
Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian writes:
Ridley Scott’s fantastically rackety, messy soap opera about the fall of the house of Gucci is rescued from pure silliness by Lady Gaga’s glorious performance as Patrizia Reggiani, the enraged ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, grandson of the fashion-house founder Guccio Gucci. She singlehandedly delivers the movie from any issues about Italianface casting: only she can get away with speaking English with the comedy foreign-a accent-a…
House of Gucci… is enjoyable despite, or because of, Scott’s touristy, pantomimey approach to Italy and Italian culture.
Tara Bennett from IGN writes:
[T]he director lets the whole affair get so self-serious and Lifetime-movie-overwrought by its meandering end that I was left wishing for the better film that’s buried in there somewhere…
Unfortunately, Gaga’s Patrizia gets more shrill and arch [later in the film]. She makes the most of some campy, quotable scenes, but it never feels as organic of a performance as it did in the start…
House of Gucci starts with such promise as Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, and Al Pacino give performances that bring out the emotional complexity of the historically dysfunctional Gucci family. But then Ridley Scott becomes infatuated with tracking the fall of the corporation and its familial machinations instead of zeroing in on the more compelling personal implosion of Patrizia and Maurizio.
David Ehrlich from IndieWire writes:
House of Gucci is best enjoyed as a movie about the blood-feud over its tone. Locked in a heated conversation with its own campiness from the moment it starts, House of Gucci leverages that underlying conflict into an operatic portrait of the tension between wealth and value.
Like so many of the people in it, House of Gucci is determined to be serious in the face of farcical ambition. Confirming that she’s one of the most hypnotically self-possessed actors on the planet, Lady Gaga plays the already ridiculous Patrizia Reggiani as a caricature of a caricature. The result is a singular double-negative of a performance that gradually humanizes a social-climbing succubus as she tumbles back down towards hell; the film around her might stiffen down its morbid final stretch, but Gaga seems to gain even more control over herself as Patrizia spirals towards murder.
Mae Abdulbaki from ScreenRant writes:
Lady Gaga’s performance as Patrizia is by far one of the best things about House of Gucci, ridiculous enough without going over the top… However, one of the biggest letdowns of the film is how little is understood about her overall perspective. The screenplay could have used a lot more polishing with regards to what drives Patrizia besides money and power…
There’s a lot of potential that goes untapped, however, with the film’s emotional beats lacking effectiveness, turmoil, and general panache. Even Maurizio’s murder ultimately falls flat in the way it’s handled…[W]hile House of Gucci is melodramatic enough to be engaging and watchable, with the performances being a standout, a lot of the story needed to be ironed out and further explored for it to achieve anything beyond semi-serious superficiality.
Owen Gleiberman from Variety writes:
House of Gucci is an icepick docudrama that has a great deal of fun with its grand roster of ambitious scoundrels, but it’s never less than a straight-faced and nimbly accomplished movie…
Directed by Ridley Scott, in what is easily his finest work since Gladiator, the film is absorbing because it takes the world it shows us on its own coldly flamboyant terms… House of Gucci, which is a kind of fashionista Godfather Lite, is a sophisticated true-life tale about the way that power actually works: in a business empire, in a family, among people who are supposed to be looking out for each other.
If you’re looking for overripe kitschy malevolence, you won’t find it, and if you’re looking for a hero to connect to, you won’t totally find that either. But if you get onto the film’s wavelength, the pageant of dynastic corporate war is mesmerizing.
House of Gucci arrives in theatres Nov. 24.
UPDATE: Nov. 23, 2021, 12:00 p.m. EST Updated to include Mashable’s review.