House of Gucci – 4 stars
Ridley Scott would not seem to be the first choice to helm this story of an Italian fashion family’s tragica fine, but he does quite nicely, even without a canvas that would more naturally fit his visual talents. The Gucci empire, such as it is introduced to us, is a lucrative endeavor, but held in check by the natural infirmities of family and conservative stewardship. Enter the middle-class ambition of Lady Gaga, who marries Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and then systematically steers him into fratricidal maneuvering. She opens the doors for massive expansion and wealth while also inviting the germ that will ensure no one in the family, including her, shares in it. It’s sad, sometimes very funny and black, and well-acted.
On the “well-acted” part, there may be some pushback, primarily because 1) none of the characters are Italian and 2) all of them give an Italian accent that sometimes nears Chef Boyardee (or, in the case of Jeremy Irons, lapses into Downton Abbey). Eh, it’s fine, and often, hilarious; there’s not a moment Jared Leto is butchering his accent that you aren’t transfixed (his comic turn nearly steals the film).
Apparently, Lady Gaga worked with a dialect coach to help her perfect the Northern Italian accent, which is ridiculous, because for the most part, she’s not speaking Italian, but rather, English with an Italian flair. No matter. She has advanced leaps and bounds beyond her energetic yet balky performance in A Star is Born. She’s the heart of this picture and as Lady Macbeth of the fashion industry, she’s ferocious and indelible.
You don’t have to rush to the theater for this one. There are no sweeping Scott battles, sea voyages or other vistas that must be viewed on the big screen. The film is made for streaming release and take-out pasta.