House of Gucci
Director: Ridley Scott
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Bon Creative/Scott Free Productions / Universal Pictures
I really loved House of Gucci. I was interested enough in it anyway, but the thing that totally amped me for it was this advance nonsense about Lady Gaga being the only good thing in it; about it being a load of trash otherwise; about Jared Leto’s ham sandwich acting.
Gaga was fantastic. The film is trash – in that its subject is a glorious clusterfuck of loudness and mess. And Leto – hidden under a pile of make-up – was borderline racist with his comical accent and did appear to be delivering his lines only for himself in what he was sure was another movie altogether.
But that helped to make the film!
Leto plays a fool. As his on-screen dad (Al Pacino) says, more than once, he’s “a fool, but he’s my fool”. I think Jared Leto was quite extraordinary really – he played a buffoon.
Now, there’s also been some annoying press around one or two real-life bit-part players in the story chucking their two-cents down and saying that the real Paolo Gucci wasn’t anywhere near as outwardly silly as Leto makes him look; he was definitely an eccentric and there were people that hated him, but he was no idiot.
Such fact-checking lets the absolute truth get in the way of a good story.
There’s a reason these sorts of As Told By/Based On A Book… films and stories don’t ever quite purport to be the absolute truth. And it isn’t just for legal sake. When it comes to storytelling there is no truth. There are only ever versions. Your side, my side and the truth – as the movie mogul Robert Evans said winningly in his brilliant memoir/turned documentary The Kid Stays In The Picture.
If Ridley Scott made Gucci a bit long, who cares. If it stumbled along tonally and shifted without ever quite telling us, big deal. And if he wanted to lampoon the absolute fuck out of some of these characters – because frankly they deserved it – then so be it.
I sat in the cinema and laughed. And cringed. And loved doing both.
It was like Boogie Nights and Casino and The Godfather and Macbeth had a baby. And then blinged up that baby in the titular brand.
The music was sensational. From authentic to hokey and back. Always so hooky too – great earworms, disco bangers, eighties anthems. Sublime.
Pacino is almost never not great. And so he wasn’t great here, but he was pretty close. Jeremy Irons – seemingly dressed as John Waters – was brilliant. And if he was Waters, then I’m pretty sure Jared Leto thought he was David Crosby. (Perhaps not a bad comparison to Paolo).
But I just loved the messy soap-opera of this. A big, giant clanger of a movie. The sort you go to because you want to be entertained. There’s art in the acting and in the choices of the director, in the songs (even in their very selection) but it’s also all there and slapped up on the wall for us to laugh at, to shake our heads in bafflement. To watch a succession of horrible people (and yeah, there’s a pun in there if you like) chase each other down the plughole.
House of Gucci is a film so assured by its own absurdity, a story you couldn’t quite make up but could also somehow predict quite clearly as you were watching it, that it becomes a triumph. There’s no lesson here – I mean yes, it’s obvious that greed is never good and that petty squabbles blow up and that family dynamics are a mess but none of that is the point of the movie. The point of the movie is to gather you in a cinema and say look at this fucking giant mess. Laugh at it. Be entertained by it. Because it’s fucking nuts eh!
And on that point this movie absolutely slaps. Just totally kills. Is the absolute business mate.