Big drama, big stars dazzle in Scott’s “House of Gucci”
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Stefani Germanotta, or Lady Gaga as she’s known to the world plays Patrizia Reggiani Gucci.
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“HOUSE OF GUCCI”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, & Digital; 2021; R for profanity, sex, nudity, violence; streaming on Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “The Rise of the House of Gucci” making-of featurette
LOOK OUT, there’s a lady in the house! And when that house is Gucci and that lady is Gaga, you can bet she’ll be worth watching. Stefani Germanotta, or Lady Gaga as she’s known to the world, demonstrates that her talent knows no bounds in Ridley Scott’s (“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator”) flawed, but highly entertaining, take on the rise and fall of the infamous Gucci dynasty.
Lady G fits her role as Patrizia Reggiani as perfectly as she fits into her flashy Gucci duds. Patrizia, a feisty young woman with a desk job in her father’s Milan trucking business, is out dancing one night and meets a shy young man named Maurizio (Adam Driver). When he tells her his last name is Gucci, her eyes light up and you can almost see the wheels turning in her mind.
She charms Maurizio, they date and, against his father Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) wishes, he marries her. Thus begins Patrizia’s infiltration into the family’s luxury fashion empire. Her business savvy and ambition lead to Maurizio’s involvement in, and eventual leadership of, the company instead of the law career he’d previously chosen. Maurizio’s Uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) who, with Rodolfo, had been the largest shareholders in Gucci, takes a liking to Patrizia and admires her – until, that is, she plots against him and his son Paolo (Jared Leto).
(1) “House of Gucci” opens in 1995, as Maurizio Gucci played by Adam Driver, has a coffee at a Milan, Italy street cafe. (2) Flashback: 1970s and Patrizia Reggiani meets Maurizio Gucci at a Milan nightclub. (3&4) Now dating, they go for a boat ride.
“It was a name that sounded so sweet, so seductive. Synonymous with wealth, style, power. You passed one of their windows and peeked inside, hoping you’d earn enough money someday to afford the second-cheapest item.
Surprise! You won’t.
But the last name was a curse, too. It belonged to a Tuscan family. They didn’t fight over land or crown. They fought over their own skins.”
With Salma Hayek as a TV fortune-teller who becomes Patrizia’s buddy and
then partner in crime, “House of Gucci” is a fun ride, with plenty of sparkle and intrigue. Lady Gaga steals the show, looking smashing in one bold outfit after another, and displaying her impressive acting chops in almost every scene. What’s baffling is why Scott had all the actors speak English with what are mostly phony-sounding Italian accents. It cheapens an otherwise impressive production unless, that is, Scott meant the film to be a dark comedy. If so, it simply doesn’t work.
MGM/Universal only released the 1080P physical disc although it was captured on a 4.5K ARRIRAW digital camera (2.39:1 aspect ratio) and mastered in 4K. But, on digital platforms, it’s available in all its 4K/HDR glory, which we compare the quality to the Blu-ray. A wide shot along a busy Italian street with Patrizia in the foreground as Maurizio exits a building across the street, shows the added resolution and detail in Maurizio’s face and the façade on the building.
The HDR grading HDR10 and Dolby Vision is slightly darker, with a heavier dose of black from shadows to mid-tones. The colors are saturated, with natural skin tones. Plus, the highlights are nicely defined. CGI effects are totally convincing, whether the actors are conversing on Manhattan streets or entering vintage Gucci boutiques in Milan.
Digital gets the eight-channel Dolby Atmos, while the Blu-ray is coded with 7.1 DTS HD. Both are state-of-the-art, with a slight edge to the Blu-ray’s higher bitrate. Rear effects are always well-balanced and realistic, and dialogue clear. English subtitles are available.
(1) Patrizia meets Maurizio’s father Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) a former movie star. (2) Patrizia’s step-father Ferdinando Reggiani walks her down the aisle. Rodolfo Gucci didn’t approve of the relationship and none of the Gucci family attended the wedding. (3) Maurizio’s Uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) tries to convince Rodolfo to support his one and only son. (4&5) Maurizio and Patrizia attend a Gucci gathering for Uncle Aldo’s birthday. During the party, the guys play rugby.
Digital and Blu-ray both include the same featurettes. “The Lady of the House,” which focuses on Lady Gaga’s preparation for her role as Patrizia; “Styling ‘House of Gucci,’” featuring interviews with the costume and production designers; and the 14-minute Making-of.
Scott’s wife Giannina Facio encouraged him to make the film based on the book “The House of Gucci: The Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed” by Sara Gay Forden. The project didn’t really take off until, 20 years later, Scott hired Roberto Bentivegna to write the screenplay. Bentivegna grew up in Italy, where his mother was a fashion designer, making him the perfect choice.
He notes the “Shakespearean aspect of the story, with a tragic romance at the center.” For Scott, the tale was more like the sagas of the Medici or the Borgias. “The Guccis were Italian royalty – how can that not be interesting?” Lady Gaga praises the director for “giving us space to have fun, with a not so funny subject.”
Leto discusses the profound physical transformation he underwent to become Paolo. After four hours of makeup, nobody, including Al Pacino, had any idea Leto was beneath it. Driver notes how much it helped to have Scott’s hand-drawn scene-by-scene storyboards. He adds that, with four cameras always shooting different angles simultaneously, the actors had to be “on” all the time, saying it was “like theater in the round.”
— Peggy Earle
(1) The couple eats some birthday cake while driving home from the party. (2) The landmark Gucci store is open for business in Milan. (3) Uncle Aldo is charmed by Patrizia. (4) Maurizio and Aldo talk over plans to visit New York City.
(1&2) Maurizio and Patrizia take New York by storm. (3) Maurizio’s cousin Paolo (Jared Leto) meets with his father Rodolfo, who gives him blunt advice about his fashion designs. “You must not show these to anyone. Keep them hidden. I mean it.” (4&5) The birth of Patrizia and Maurizio’s daughter Alessandra. They give his ailing father a lock of her hair and they name her after Maurizio’s mother. (6) Patrizia consults with the TV psychic, Pina (Salma Hayek). (7) Patrizia and Maurizio are in their lavish New York apartment, and she discovers the Gucci name is on thousands of fake shoes and handbags.
(1) The couple discusses the Gucci business with Domenico (Jack Huston). (2&3) Patrizia and Maurizio attend the Gianni Versace fashion show, as they consider adding Paolo’s designs to the Gucci brand name. (4) Paolo has his first major fashion show and it’s stopped by Italian authorities for copyright infringement. (5) At a Swiss ski resort, Maurizio rekindles a relationship with an old girlfriend Paola (Camille Cottin), who reacts to Patrizia’s surprise appearance. (6) Patrizia lets Paola know she’s wise to her intentions.