House for Sale

By Michael Shindler

High fashion is perplexing to the uninitiated, if not outright ridiculous. The clothing is exorbitantly priced and impractically outlandish, and the popular explanations for these peculiarities—that it is all of the best quality and the best looking—seem only so warranted and intuitively discredited by seasonal leaps from one fad to another. But in the face of such perplexity Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, which critics have thus far maligned on the very grounds that make it effective, yields clarifying and tragic insights.

Largely, the film is based on the true story of the decline of the Gucci family and the resurrection of the Gucci brand, beginning with the romance of the well-heeled Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and high-heeled Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). On penalty of estrangement from the former’s father, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), the couple marry, and thereafter grow close to the groom’s uncle, Aldo (Al Pacino), and cousin, Paolo (Jared Leto). But the birth of a daughter precipitates a reconciliation with Rodolfo, who—on cue—dies, leaving, albeit contestably, Maurizio his shares in Gucci. Then, in remarkably short order, Patrizia helps him seize corporate control by successively throwing Aldo and Paolo under the bus.

But as Maurizio’s power increases and he comes to identify more fully with the Gucci family and brand, he falls aways from Patrizia, divorcing her in favor of the sort of woman whom his father would have approved. So, aided by a television psychic (Salma Hayek), Patrizia arranges for Maurizio’s assassination. But before the deed is done, the latter is booted from the company as young American designer Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) swoops in to the delight of Gucci’s new owners, making the brand marketable again.

Almost unanimously, reviewers in the wake of the film’s release pilloried the cast’s high-flown and jarringly incongruous performances. One review in the New Yorker reads, “There are times when ‘House of Gucci’ becomes a kind of actors’ contest, with the stars lining up to salt the ham”; another in the New York Times, “If Irons were any chillier, he would crystallize. If Pacino ran any hotter, he’d burst into flame”; in the Atlantic, “Leto acts like he just walked off the top of a pizza box.” Perhaps a particularly exasperated review at sums up such judgements best: “If only the cast could decide what kind of a movie they were all in.”

But this sort of appraisal of the actors’ performances overlooks their relationship to the dramatic substance of the film, which quite definitely is a conflict of high-flown and jarringly incongruous personalities vying to remake Gucci in their own image. That is, Rodolfo would have it be the epitome of taste, Aldo a wearable token of a rich tradition, Paolo the uniform of youth, Patrizia a superlative status symbol, and Maurizio something as elusive and tragic as his own self.

It is no coincidence that high fashion as we know it—a matter of spectacle epitomized in the runway show—emerged …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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