Review: H.O.G tells the true story of the relationship between Italian businessman Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) —the grandson of fashion empire Gucci’s founder, Guccio Gucci, and an heir to the fashion house—and Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a social climber, whom Maurizio marries despite the disapproval of his father. Following their separation, Maurizio was shot in 1995 and Patrizia arrested in 1997 for orchestrating her ex-husband’s assassination.
Toxic family feuds, backstabbing dynasty politics, greed for power and wealth; the docudrama satiates your curiosity about the rich and famous as expected. However, beyond the crumbling of a fashion empire, what stays with you the most is the repercussion of two people falling out of love unceremoniously. “I don’t hate you but I don’t love you,” says Maurizio coldly to his heartbroken wife Patrizia, who begs him to reconcile for the sake of their daughter. After moving on to another love interest, the indifference, with which he abandons his wife, triggers her more than the separation. And hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
House of Gucci plays out like an absorbing game of Snakes and ladders. It’s interesting how Ridley Scott perceives his characters. ‘It is better to cry in Rolls Royce than be happy on a bicycle”, said Patrizia notoriously. He still believes there’s more to her than being a gold-digger. He sees her strong business acumen, ability to see through people, courage to pursue her dreams unabashedly and making inroads into men dominated business. She was an unstoppable force to reckon with. An unpretentious outsider, she strives to belong to a family, who never treated her as an equal. The film cleverly steers the conversation towards social disparity and blood over brain culture.
While Gaga owns her firecracker role in every frame, it is Adam Driver’s character arc that stuns you the most. He goes from someone who doesn’t show much interest in inheriting family wealth to becoming a shrewd businessman, who won’t let emotions override his judgement. Driver is outstanding, especially in scenes that demand his taciturn, passive-aggressive approach to his wife’s fiery nature. Gaga-Driver recreate Patrizia-Maurizio’s fire-water, steamy-stormy relationship perfectly. Jared Leto (in an unrecognisable getup) and Al Pacino are impeccable in their respective roles.
Despite a runtime of 2 hours, 37 minutes the film doesn’t feel long or sluggish. It is engaging from beginning to end. It’s the gaudy Italian accents that take time to get used to. Leto and Gaga in particular go overboard with it. The excessive use of ‘We are Gucci, I am Gucci, You are not Gucci’, feels overdramatic and tiring. The book-to-film adaptation jumps a few chapters and feels abrupt on a few occasions. A limited series would have perhaps done better justice to the story. The music composed by Harry Gregson-Williams is in sync with the glamour and deceit the film embodies. Costume designer Janty Yates extracts high-fashion designs from deluxe labels like GUCCI (obviously) and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) to get the film’s most important element right — fashion.
“Gucci deserves to be in a museum, not a mall,” says Rodolfo Gucci, former head of the empire, unwilling to make his high-end brand accessible. The family took a lot of pride in their work and legacy. To discover that not a single member of the family is now associated with the brand is heart-breaking.