Let me preface this week’s newsletter by saying that I am not a movie reviewer. Don’t let this picture I posted on Friday from a reasonable matinee showing of House of Gucci fool you:
While standing in line for the bathroom after watching the movie, an older woman behind me was like, “I noticed you writing in your notebook during the movie. Are you with the media?” I said, “No, I’m just a mentally ill homosexual with a newsletter,” and she was like, “Oh!”, then immediately proceeded to turn around and strike up a conversation with the stranger behind her.
I don’t blame her. If she had read my notes, all she would have seen is a list of bullet points that said things like “CIGARETTES” and “Jared Leto venting to a cage filled with pigeons—same” in between stains from the queso I was dipping tortilla chips into. Needless to say, this is not an official movie review. This is just, like, The View “Hot Topics” version of it, if you will. That being said, let’s get into one of the most anticipated films of the year.
Warning: spoilers! I mean, not really, since it’s based on a true story, so it’s not like the ending is shrouded in mystery, but still; it’s the principle.
Ridley Scott’s crime drama, House of Gucci, tells the tale of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) as their marriage becomes a tug of war for control of the Italian fashion brand, Gucci.
What results in the murder of Maurizio was orchestrated by his then-ex-wife, Patrizia. But, before all of this transpires, Maurizio, one of the principal heirs to the fashion empire, is a young, hopeful law student when he meets Patrizia, a gorgeous young woman working as an administrative assistant for her father’s business, at a party one night.
Patrizia is delighted to have met a scion of the renowned fashion house and decides to pursue him by following him around town until accidentally “bumping” into him at what I assume is a law library. Maurizio doesn’t recognize her at first because she’s wearing a babushka scarf, which is exactly how I seduce all my suitors. ("The babushka scarf stays on during sex!") Then, in a display of more game than I could ever hope to have, she writes down her number in lipstick on the windshield of his moped.
(Side note: IS THIS HOW HOT PEOPLE OPERATE????? I think the closest comparable thing I’ve done was to be like, “Let me get this,” thinking I’m hot shit, buying a drink for a dude I just met at a bar, only to have the bartender follow it up with, “Sir, this is your library card.” Send that hitman after me next!)
Maurizio is taken with Patrizia and eventually proposes to her. They get married and Patrizia becomes a part of the Gucci family. At this point in the movie, approximately 29,000 cigarettes have already been smoked, and 16,000 tiny espresso cups have already been drunk from...and they just keep on coming, thank GOD!!!!!!!!
Soon after, Patrizia announces that she is pregnant, which delights Maurizio’s dad, Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons), because he will be a grandfather. Rodolfo is on his son’s ass about embracing his family legacy like, “Why would you want to become a lawyer when you’re literally the heir to the Gucci fortune???” But Maurizio is like, “Hmmm…maybe!” Rich people! Gotta love ‘em. Anyway, before they could get too into it, Rodolfo dies of natural causes. Apparently he wasn’t sick, which could have fooled me, because toward the end he straight up looks like the Corpse Bride. (There is not an official movie still of this, and I was scared to snap a photo in the theater because I didn’t want to wake up to someone from MGM strangling me with a Gucci belt.)
After Rodolfo passes away, Maurizio inherits the estate from his dad and becomes a principal stockholder of Gucci alongside his uncle, Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino). By this point in the movie, Patrizia has already been trying to encourage her husband to take a more active interest in the family business. During this time in fashion history, Gucci’s name did not carry the note of notability it does today—it’s seen as a B-list house, at best, compared to the likes of other brands like Versace and Giorgio Armani.
Ideas about new product lines are volleyed back and forth by those with high stakes in the company—most of whom repeatedly butt heads on the heels of Rodolfo’s death. Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto) had been rebuffed by his uncle time and time again when he was alive. At one point, Rodolfo refers to his nephew's work as a “triumph of mediocrity,” (which is what will be engraved on my tombstone), and it isn’t until Patrizia intervenes that Paolo’s designs make their way to the runway.
But their plan for taking over the runway does not go smoothly. The show is raided by the police because of something having to do with copyright infringement???? It’s a bit more complicated than that, but at this point in the movie, the tater tots I'd ordered came out, so I got distracted. But when I did look up, I did see models being pulled off the runway in the middle of the show and Paolo being super pissed! Also, at some point, Aldo is arrested for—I think—tax evasion, or whatever rich people do to get away with not paying their taxes, which I think is pretty much anything short of dipping their first-born in chloric acid. And even then!
Gucci (the company) is a shitshow at this point. Aldo is in jail. Paolo is emotional and constipated (“I haven’t shit in a week!”). Maurizio, fully in control of the empire, greets his newly released uncle from jail by serving him with papers that relinquish his share of the company, an agreement which he (very) reluctantly signs with a fountain pen the size of a Hydro Flask.
With Aldo pushed out of the family business and Paolo inhaling chocolate gelato and “having very dark thoughts”—where the fuck was my invitation to audition for this role???—Patrizia’s attempts at manipulating Maurizio backfire, and she’s served with divorce papers. She is…not happy!
Maurizio takes a new lover (Camille Cottin) at this point, and Patrizia slowly starts to unravel, leaving message after message on Maurizio’s answering machine (“you are a painful appendage that needs to be removed,” a line that I need printed in a Hallmark card, stat). With the help of her friend, Pina (Salma Hayek), who is a TV psychic from a hotline that Patrizia had dialed earlier on in her marriage to ask if she would become successful, the two meet with a hitman, and, after some haggling, agree on a price to remove Maurizio from the mortal realm.
The hitman, armed with his pistol and attached silencer, corners Maurizio on his way back from what we can only assume was chain-smoking and organizing his vast array of fountain pens by girth, and shoots him to death. Patrizia celebrates by writing the word “Paradiso” in her journal and reclaiming the home she and her daughter had once lived in. The film ends with her arrest and subsequent conviction, ultimately sentenced to twenty-nine years in jail for the murder of her ex-husband.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the movie because I knew what I was in for. I was expecting an elevated soap opera that skewed more towards tongue-in-cheek camp as opposed to some premier drama. House of Gucci is a film that is serious about not taking itself too seriously. Lady Gaga in a red snow suit and a fur hat stirring her espresso from a cup the size of my pinky nail saying, in an Italian accent, “I don’t consider myself to be a particularly ethical person, but I am fair,” and, of course, the already-iconic line, “Father, Son, and House of Gucci”???? I mean, c’mon.
And, of course, the accents. To which I say, analyze every syllable to your heart’s desire. Truly. I am not a dialect coach, so I’m not leaning forward in my chair to hear if Lady Gaga pronounces the “h” in “hotel” or not. I am here to be entertained, and entertained I was. If you’re looking for the same experience, I suggest grabbing a gay and heading to the showing nearest you.
If you did see House of Gucci, pop off in the comments with your thoughts…sweetie.
Cover art by: James Jeffers
Photo credits: All images via MGM.
Editorial assistant: Jesse Adele