It’s difficult finding a point of attack when it comes to a beast as large as House of Gucci. In a lot of ways this film feels like an attempt at an opulent climax of queer cinematic history. A point in time that baby gays will reference for years to come. I mean it’s not everyday you have Lady Gaga and Al Pacino chewing off the same scene, and so of course there’s been a shared anticipation bubbling inside all of us.
After now seeing the film, my mind is quite torn on whether it can be considered good or bad. A part of me feels it’s too weird for such directness and has launched itself to the high shelf of camptitude. But alas, there are a few pins weighing the film down, and they’re unfortunately hard to miss. And so, to be conclusive, we must go through the genuinely good, the painstakingly bad, and the all-out fun of House of Gucci.
A colleague of mine swears this picture falls under “Straight Camp”: something that visibly recreates hallmarks of the genre but moves in a way that is distinctly not queer. And I definitely see where this read comes from. The ways in which the film attempts to glide between the serious period piece and the melodramatic family romp is indicative of camp classics. To the film’s support, this did create an enjoyable watch. The plot is just a standard rise and fall Gucci Edition, and so rather than focusing on story beats, the writers more so just had the characters bounce off each other. And this decision really proves to be the best they could have made. There is a lavish 80s late night noir quality to the way characters float from one garishly stunning set piece to the next. Each scene made it easier to erase the need to be critical and just enjoy where the ride was obviously going. And really that came from the on-screen portrayals of these characters. The cast clearly knew what kind of movie this was going to be, and they all fully committed. Especially Lady Gaga, who in an interesting way made the world’s more over the top aspects feel more grounded.
Speaking of, the way the world was depicted was a lot of fun as well. Given the iconic color palette of Gucci, the film stays away from the neon colors. Instead, it captures the larger-than-life industrialism of the 80s, contrasting warm Italian villas with cool New York buildings stripped straight from an ad. The set design was probably my favorite aspect of the film, mainly because I feel it captures the balance of campy yet purposeful best (which is a shame because they definitely can’t find it in the script.)
Although I said the film ignores plot for its character, it doesn’t do so fully. And so, throughout the runtime you’ll have bulks that move really slow, only to be followed by other parts moving overly fast. This becomes extremely annoying no matter where you fall. If you are someone wishing they’d flesh out the murderous wife plot, you are going to be disappointed. The film gets there eventually but really only does so after many scenes of just hanging out and being rich. There’s nothing really building up the kill, aside from an under-utilized Salma Hayek that turns out to be involved, and even when it does happen, it’s the literal last 10 minutes of the movie.
If you are someone who’s here for the showy scenes, you are also going to be disappointed because the film occasionally forgets Lady Gaga exists so they can play catch up with the plot. It becomes especially bad leading up to the aforementioned 10 minutes. If earlier scenes play with the idea of forgetting Gaga’s character, than the final stretch plays like three fourths of the cast never existed. It’s all Adam Driver just moving through the motion, hitting the beats. This problem in turn starts to affect other aspects of the film and prevents the chemistry of the characters from being truly great. As an audience member, because the tone flips every 20 minutes, it’s difficult to get a read on scenes. During my viewing, you could hear chuckles and snares at moments when characters seemed to be pulling their heart out. But that reaction is understandable because the scene right before it had the characters doing the same thing, only that time it was seemingly comedic. And this just builds and builds on itself until, again, we hit the last 10 minutes and the movie just ends. And if you’re anything like me, you’re left kinda happy but also kinda confused.
At the end of it all I don’t think I’m truly as confused as I’ve been saying I am. I think this movie is stretching itself thin attempting to have 4 tones all fight for control. There are films that embark on similar journeys and have more successful runs. But it’s because they understand that not everyone can be captain, and that your writers have to choose what’s going to become the first mates. That being said, I still very much so enjoyed watching House of Gucci. It was a fun viewing experience, maybe even one of my favorites for the year. And I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t see myself throwing this one on with a group of friends and a bottle of good times. So do I recommend that people see this movie? Yes, 100%. But do I think they are going to come out of it with 80 hot takes? Yes, 100%.