In his biographical drama film, “House of Gucci,” Ridley Scott presents an elaborate telling of the infamous story of Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani, and the subsequent downfall of the Gucci family. Adapted from Sara Gay Forden’s book on the same events, the film brings to the fore tremendous visual splendor, with lavish sets and locations, and a star-studded acting cast. Despite these, it loses the pace at times, dragging the narrative, and ultimately ceasing to become anything significant.
‘House of Gucci’ Plot Summary
A young and attractive Patrizia Reggiani worked at her father’s truck company in Milan in 1978. One night at a party, she comes across a confused young gentleman behind the drinks bar. Patrizia can hardly believe it when he introduces himself as Maurizio Gucci, and she vehemently follows him around over the next few days, trying to go out on a date with him. She finally succeeds when Maurizio asks her out, and the two grow close and fond of each other.
Soon, one day, Maurizio takes her to his house to meet his father, Rodolfo Gucci, who holds 50% of Gucci. Rodolfo is clearly put off when he hears of the business that Patrizia’s father owns, and later on, advises Maurizio that the woman is with him only for his money and tells him not to pursue her any longer, especially for any serious relationship. But Maurizio completely disregards his father’s words, and the threat of disinheritance does not bother him either. Soon, he goes away from the Gucci house and family and asks for shelter at Patrizia’s, telling her father that she wants to marry her. He starts working for the Reggiani truck business, and with their passionate relationship growing deeper, Maurizio and Patrizia get married.
Word of this marriage reaches Aldo Gucci, Rodolfo’s brother and the owner of the remaining 50% of Gucci; he wants Maurizio to lead the Gucci family business forward, as he is unconvinced by his own son Paolo. Aldo calls the newlywed couple, asking them to visit his birthday party. After this lavish celebration, Aldo offers them to go to New York to see how the global operations of the company take place. During this time, Patrizia also comes across a psychic named Pina on the television, and consults her to learn of the potential for success and wealth in her future.
In New York, Aldo makes his intention of getting Maurizio back into the family known, and although Maurizio is not accepting of the idea at first, Patrizia’s pregnancy and the thought of becoming a father makes him agree to it. The two start living in New York, working for the company, and Patrizia gives birth to their daughter, Alessandra. Right around this point, Maurizio receives news of his father’s terrible health, and accompanied by his wife, he goes to see him for one last time. Rodolfo forgives his son and embraces him back, leaving him his 50% stake in the company after his death, which soon follows.
Businessman Maurizio: When The Apple Starts To Rot
Although Rodolfo had left his share of the company to his son, he had failed to sign the document before his death. Their long-trusted accountant and lawyer, Domenico De Sole, suggests that he either pay a huge sum of money as inheritance tax or sell off his shares of the company. Patrizia is livid at such a suggestion, and after consulting with Pina once again (this time in person), she manages to forge Rodolfo’s signature, making Maurizio the legal part-owner of the Gucci brand.
Soon, she starts playing a more active and passionate role in the business, starting with uncovering a network of fake Gucci products that are available in cheap markets. But when she wants to do something about it, Aldo reveals that the company knows and is directly involved in these products, only to increase sales and profits. The two have a disagreement, and Aldo demands that they remember all that he has done to help them reach their current position. Powered by this, even more, Patrizia entices her husband to take a more controlling role in the family by trying to buy off shares from his uncle and cousin. She meets with Paolo and convinces him to put pressure on Aldo with the promise of letting Paolo design his own line of clothes for Gucci. Paolo hands over proof of Aldo’s tax evasion in the USA, and the latter is soon arrested and jailed for a year by the IRS.
Soon after, Paolo is also handed a legal notice for having illegally used the copyrighted name of Gucci in his own fashion show; Maurizio and Patrizia advise him to sell his shares to them when he goes to meet them, but he turns the offer down and chooses to continue paying the legal fees. However, not long after this, the police in Italy come looking for Maurizio, suspecting that he had forged his father’s signature, and the now well-established businessman has to immediately flee to Switzerland, leaving his wife and young daughter behind.
When De Sole questions Patrizia about the forged signature, she denies knowing anything about it and tries to put the blame on Paolo. But she now grows suspicious of De Sole, since he was the only one who knew about Rodolfo’s unsigned document, and she tells Maurizio about it when she goes to Switzerland. But her husband does not pay much heed to it, for he says that he trusts him and because now he starts to feel that Patrizia is becoming too controlling of him and the business.
In the meantime, he had also met Paola Franchi, an old friend who had seemingly been interested in Maurizio, who had gradually started growing cold and distant towards Patrizia. Soon, he sends her and their daughter back to Italy while he continues to live in Switzerland and manage the business from there. Taking up the reins of Gucci in his own hands now, he approaches an equity company, Investcorp, with whom he wants to buy out the rest of the company, which belongs to Aldo (now in jail) and Paolo (nearing bankruptcy). Investcorp agrees and also manages to buy out the stakes from Paolo, who is by now in desperate need of money.
In his personal life, Maurizio starts a relationship with Paola and files for a divorce from Patrizia, which she vehemently rejects. She tries making contact with him on multiple occasions, but he refuses every time, only continuing to pay for her and their daughter’s financial needs. Investcorp meets with Aldo after he is out of jail to buy him out of the company, and he finally agrees, with a lot of frustrated anger when his nephew himself appears at the meeting. Now completely in control of Gucci, Maurizio hires a new and stylistically modern designer, Tom Ford, for the company to create designs completely different from the style of Gucci. On the other hand, unable to control her anger over Paola getting to stay with Maurizio and also with the guidance of Pina, Patrizia hires professional hitmen to shoot and kill her ex-husband.
Overall, “House of Gucci” remains a simple retelling of the scandalous events of the fashion family. While very flashy and visually appealing at most times, owing to the brilliant performances of the cast, there is not much depth or layer to the narrative it presents. The character of Patrizia is understandably very ambitious and driven towards trying to succeed, but there is really not much connection with her that the film is able to establish till the end. The narrative also tends to suffer a bit from being too long at unnecessary points and then having to rush at other times. This particularly happens in the latter parts, especially when Maurizio falls in love with Paola and also decides to approach Investcorp—there is not enough motivation presented here, and it only looks like a simple retelling of events that occurred in history.
‘House Of Gucci’ Ending Explained: Is Patrizia Able To Finally Make The Gucci Name Her Own?
Although the newer experiments of Maurizio’s Gucci are creative successes, their poor management runs the company towards financial loss, and by 1995, Investcorp’s core team wants to buy out Maurizio’s own shares and turn him away from the company. Maurizio denies wanting to sign, cursing De Sole, saying that he should have trusted Patrizia when she doubted him, but deep down, he also knows that life will be difficult without Investcorp wanting him in the company. On the morning of March 27, 1995, as Maurizio cycles to work, he is shot and killed by the two hired assassins. Getting the news that she had been expecting for a long time, Patrizia goes to her late ex-husband’s villa in Milan, where he was living with Paola, and announces a notice of eviction against Paola. She finally seemed in control of the Gucci household, but after two years in 1997, the Italian court sentenced her to twenty-nine years in prison for the murder of Maurizio Gucci.
There is a sense of inconsistency with regards to the film as well as treatment of Patrizia—it is as if the film does not know where to draw the line. It sides with Patrizia for quite some time through her ambitious drive towards success, but it seems almost farcical towards the ending scenes. This is felt in the scenes with Paolo that a general sense of comedy and humor is generated which continues to exist (confusingly) even in scenes of great drama and tragedy. The connection with real history is one of the driving factors of the film; in the ending intertitles, the fate of everyone is mentioned: Patrizia, Pina, and the two assassins are imprisoned; Aldo died of prostate cancer in 1990; Paolo died of poverty in 1995, and Gucci revived as a business and continues to be a name synonymous with luxury fashion despite having no involvement of the Gucci family anymore. The other driving factor in the film is, of course, the brilliant performances from Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, and Salma Hayek. Overall, “House of Gucci” is a decent enough watch to enjoy without much to ponder about.