First, a disclaimer: I have developed an antipathy for films in which English-speaking actors adopt fake accents as they pretend to speak in foreign languages. Would Best Picture Oscar winner Amadeus have been improved if its American cast spoke with Austrian and Italian dialects? Would the awesome HBO miniseries Chernobyl have been more believable with its mostly British cast putting on Russian brogues? I vote no.
So here we have House of Gucci, with its American and British headliners playing various members of the Gucci fashion clan, and each plying his or her own version of an Italian accent, from Jeremy Irons sounding like his normal English self to Jared Leto's broad "It's-a-me, Mario!" interpretation. I can see how it might be less convincing if the actors spoke in their native dialects, but this-a phony Italian stuff kept-a distracting me in a movie that isn't very good to start with.
House of Gucci, adapted from Sara Gay Forden's nonfiction bestseller, condenses several decades of Gucci family strife and focuses primarily on the turbulent relationship between husband and wife Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), which ended with Maurizio's murder in 1995. The film plays loosely with the facts: for instance, we see the star-crossed lovers first meeting at a party in 1978, when in reality they had gotten married in 1972. The cliched soundtrack also skips through time: to wit, George Michael's 1987 hit "Faith" playing under Maurizio and Patrizia's wedding, which takes place around 1979 in this alternate reality. Does it matter? It does if you can't get into the film. And I couldn't get into the film.
The more fascinating – and heartbreaking – story in House of Gucci unfolds across a handful of scenes, in which each of the four Gucci men who controlled the high-fashion brand eventually lost his share to outsiders, so that eventually nobody named Gucci was actually involved with the company. But Ridley Scott and screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna think that the Maurizio-Patrizia plot is more compelling, even though they don't really explain why Patrizia would want her ex-husband dead. (It's not even clarified in the film that they had divorced a year before Maurizio's murder.) And a half-baked, wannabe feminist theme – that sharp cookie Patrizia might have known how to keep Gucci alive, but was ignored by the Gucci men – doesn't stick the landing.
Adam Driver, clearly uncomfortable with his Italian accent, delivers an uncharacteristically bland performance. Lady Gaga acquits herself well, as does Al Pacino as the passionate and playful Aldo Gucci. Perhaps we can chalk it up to them being the only two actual paesani in the principal cast – at least they know how to be Italian. But the whole shebang feels anachronistic, with Scott rarely finding the right tone.