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Designer decadence

Selfish ambition tears a family apart in House of Gucci

Fabio Lovino/AP

Designer decadence
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Paolo Gucci (played by Jared Leto) infuses the women’s apparel he designs with both pastels and browns. Molto pacchiano! The company that bears his family name keeps customers from ever seeing his tacky ensembles in boutique windows. The Gucci family couldn’t hide its own dirty laundry, though, which is aired in a new theatrical release “inspired by the true story,” House of Gucci.

House of Gucci (rated R for language, graphic sex scenes, and brief nudity) dramatizes the Italian luxury brand’s dealings from 1978 to 1995. Don’t expect The Godfather. The boardroom banter is far from intriguing, and Leto plays Paolo as a vaudevillian fool. It’s a puzzling clash of earnestness and campiness, punctuated by gratuitous sensuality.

Whatever director Ridley Scott’s designs for the Gucci story might be, though, one universal truth emerges: The love of money is the root of all sorts of evils, particularly adultery and murder. The film ends by noting that no Gucci family member has been involved with the company since the 1990s.

Brothers Aldo (Al Pacino) and Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) Gucci each owns half of the Gucci company. Battling ill health and old age, they’re weighing replacements to run the business. Rodolfo’s son Maurizio (Adam Driver) lacks managerial skills but makes a good negotiator. Aldo calls Paolo, his son, an “idiot” and keeps him and his hideous pieces out of public view.

Yet Paolo imagines himself heading Gucci’s design department. “I could finally soar—as a pigeon,” he muses.

Enter Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), an outsider from relatively humble origins who oversees the daily operations of her father’s small trucking company. She has business savvy and ambition, so when she meets Maurizio, she seizes the opportunity. Although the film initially paints Patrizia as a gold digger, she and Maurizio develop a loving and devoted relationship. Maurizio’s transformation from a starchy suit-and-tie into a warm family man illustrates the best of marriage. In fact, Maurizio leaves Gucci because his new bride’s modest lifestyle brings contentment he’s never enjoyed. They have a daughter together.

But Patrizia has tasted luxuries she’s only dreamed of: The film wows the eye with breathtaking vistas, magnificent villas, and exotic sports cars. She pushes Maurizio back into the family business and starts calling the shots through her husband. She pits family members against each other so that Maurizio can claim majority control of the company. But the deceit and backstabbing drive Maurizio and Patrizia apart, and their relationship goes wrong in all the worst ways.

“I had no idea I married a monster,” Patrizia tells Maurizio.

“You didn’t,” he replies. “You married a Gucci.”

The consequences are tragic but predictable. Not everyone carries a Gucci handbag, but we all bear a sinful nature prone to lust and greed.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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