Tom Ford: ‘House of Gucci’ is a soap opera with tone problems & inaccurate history

2021 CFDA Fashion Awards

I love Tom Ford’s eye, for both fashion and film. He’s directed two movies, A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals. While I hated Nocturnal Animals as a film, it was gorgeous (and I love A Single Man completely). It only occurred to me just now, as I read this story, that Tom Ford probably would have been a fascinating choice for director of House of Gucci, given his artistic eye and given his own history as chief designer of Gucci (1994-2004). He knows the fashion aspect of it backwards and forwards, he has intimate knowledge of the business of fashion and of this house in particular. And he would have made a f–king beautiful film. But they went with Ridley Scott instead, and I understand why. In any case, Tom Ford decided to write a lil’ movie review of House of Gucci and he sounds disgusted!!

Tom Ford was a fast-rising designer in Milan in 1995, the year Maurizio Gucci was shot and killed in a hit job ordered by his estranged wife Patrizia. In Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” he’s played by Reeve Carney in a few scenes of the film, which of course meant Ford himself would inevitably watch. In a new essay for Air Mail, Ford aired out his grievances with the movie, which he felt missed the mark despite strong performances from Lady Gaga (as Patrizia) and Jeremy Irons (as Rodolfo, Maurizio’s father).

“The shiny, ambitious, beautifully filmed and costumed tale of greed and murder is stunning by the sheer number of stars that have been cast. The movie rivals the nighttime soap ‘Dynasty’ for subtlety but does so with a much bigger budget. Directed by master filmmaker Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, and Salma Hayek, the film is … well, I’m still not quite sure what it is exactly, but somehow I felt as though I had lived through a hurricane when I left the theater. Was it a farce or a gripping tale of greed? I often laughed out loud, but was I supposed to?… At times, when Al Pacino, as Aldo Gucci, and Jared Leto, as Aldo’s son Paolo Gucci, were on-screen, I was not completely sure that I wasn’t watching a ‘Saturday Night Live’ version of the tale.”

Ford also took particular issue with Jared Leto’s larger-than-life, latex-shrouded performance as Paolo, the black sheep of the family who tries to outsmart Maurizio and Patrizia in their ascent to power. “Leto’s brilliance as an actor is literally buried under latex prosthetics. Both performers are given license to be absolute hams — and not of the prosciutto variety. They must have had fun. Paolo, whom I met on several occasions, was indeed eccentric and did some wacky things, but his overall demeanor was certainly not like the crazed and seemingly mentally challenged character of Leto’s performance,” Ford wrote.

Ford wrote that “because of the size and star power of the cast, the screenplay is at the mercy of servicing them. One feels that some roles were expanded to simply attract and then to placate the stars. As the running time ticks by, viewers are subject to pointless and sometimes confusing scenes that seem to exist solely for the purpose of allowing the leading actors to ‘act.’”

Ford also took issue with the accuracy of a moment in the film where he’s feted by Adam Driver’s Maurizio. “Maurizio had been bought out of the company by the time I assumed the position of creative director of Gucci and had my first hit collection. He certainly never toasted me after that show as he does in the film. Movies have a way of becoming truth in people’s minds, an alternate reality that in time obliterates the reality of what was,” he wrote.

“I was deeply sad for several days after watching ‘House of Gucci,’ a reaction that I think only those of us who knew the players and the play will feel. It was hard for me to see the humor and camp in something that was so bloody. In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.”

[From Indie Wire]

I think he’s being pretty fair, and his complaints sound completely legitimate. Of course he’s taking issue with some of the facts and history – he was there, he knows what happened, he remembers it well. His complaints about the tonal issues are out there, in other critics’ reviews too, that too much of the story is presented as humorous rather than tragic. And yes, I do think Ridley Scott made a high-budget soap opera. And Jared Leto needs to stop with ALL of his sh-t.

House of Gucci UK Premiere

House of Gucci UK Premiere

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar, ‘House of Gucci’.

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42 Responses to “Tom Ford: ‘House of Gucci’ is a soap opera with tone problems & inaccurate history”

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  1. Jillian says:

    Tom’s review sounds like every single review I’ve seen for House of Gucci – some good parts, very stylish, but messy and every one of the big stars is acting in their own movie. I’m still going to see it, but might wait until I can stream it at home

    • Div says:

      It’s sad…like I know Ridley is a legend and the Last Duel was well done but I think his age is catching up with him. His last dozen movies, with a few exceptions, well….you can tell there were major issues with the editing/direction. He obviously enjoys working, but it’s probably time for him to retire.

      I mean, it’s not a bad film. It’s still fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and Variety and the L.A. Times (the two places where I read film reviews) gave it good reviews. But I kept thinking a better director really could have elevated the film and reined in Jared.

      • Jillian says:

        Or fired Jared, he’s obnoxious

      • Merricat says:

        Or not hired Leto at all, which would take care of it.

      • MelOn says:

        Wow. How ageist of you…. Maybe he shouldn’t have hired Jared Leto, who everyone seems to think is great but really isn’t? The subject matter is tricky and it seemed the no one knew what kind of tone to take. I’m not a fan of Leto’s but from the commercials, I thought Gaga would be the problem because she sounded like she was looking for Moose and Squirrel, instead of part of an Italian family.

      • Vera says:

        jared leto is on my blacklist, so although I was vaguely interested in watching the movie on streaming, I am now going to give it a miss.

    • Sofia says:

      Yeah I wanted to see this but I’ve decided I’ll just wait to stream it

    • minx says:

      I enjoyed it more than I didn’t enjoy it, it’s the first theater movie I’ve seen in two years. It is long, could have used editing; Leto was quite hammy. But the performances made it worthwhile.

    • tealily says:

      I honestly thought this was straight-to-streaming. Clearly not, with this star power and budget, but still. It feels like it should be. I’ll stream it at some point but I’m in no rush.

  2. Div says:

    I mean, yes…even the reviews from the people who loved it noted the were direction/tone/editing issues and many had an issue with Jared. It was a fun, if flawed, film, but Ridley is extremely hit or miss and I kept thinking another director would have done a better job. It’s fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but in the 60s, like most of Ridley’s films over the past ten years with the exception of the Martian, Last Duel, and Exodus (Exodus was slammed).

    All of that said, lol because Tom absolutely stabbed the Guccis in the back if one is familiar with fashion history (not that didn’t deserve it, they were horrible people and this film actually takes it easy on them). So it’s a bit rich for him to comment on the situation, even if he lived through it, because he really did participate in helping them get pushed out of the company. He keeps saying they were already brought out, but then even here he admits knowing them and meeting them multiple times…

    If anything, I was surprised by how easy the film took it on them: it made them look like complete idiots, but Jared’s character in real life was a deadbeat father who went to prison for refusing to pay child support, the guy who was murdered (it implies he was committing fraud in the movie) was committing huge amounts of fraud and running the company into the ground, lots of tax evasion, I think there was even some allegations of sexual abuse. So looking like dumb buffoons…well that’s nicer than what they really were.

  3. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    But guys, what about Lady Gaga’s Oscar? She worked soooooo hard. She broke a nail!

    (Jared Leto then ate that nail, poo’ed it out, and returned it to her cause he’s so Method)

    In all seriousness, I am starting to side a lot with the “too soon” camp about movies taken from real life tragedies. It’s gotta twist the know so much for friends and the family of these people to see this part of their lives sent up as a hilarious romp on the big screen. But that’s just my feelings on it.

    • Normades says:

      I hope these reviews derails her Oscar campaign. So thirsty and over the top. I was over it as soon as it began.
      Every year there are the top contenders and the black sheep. I don’t think we’ve had an accurate picture of this race yet.

      • Karisma says:

        I’m without @normades
        The fact that gaga was a front runner before anyone even had seen the movie is ridiculous.

      • minx says:

        I never saw A Star is Born, and I don’t know that Gaga deserves an Oscar. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of her when she was on the screen—and she shared it with some A list actors.

  4. Ohlala says:

    I love Tom Ford and in this case he definitely can voice his concerns and opinion as he brought Gucci to a coveted brand. And as a very gifted acclaimed movie director he can say about performances too. And i agree with him in this case.

    And why why why all movie spoken in that horrific broken accent

    • Mike says:

      I do not ee how they did not offer him the directing role of this movie. Seems like it would have been perfect

      • Jenn says:

        When I read Tom Ford’s review (I subscribe to Air Mail, lol), my first thought was “god, how different would the performances have been if Tom Ford had directed??” That, I would’ve loved to see.

        But he wasn’t “offered” the job because this is Ridley Scott’s project. According to Vulture, Scott and his wife had been trying to get the movie off the ground for many years. So… it is what it is 😬

  5. Amy Bee says:

    I thought A Single Man was a terrible movie but I trust his comments on House of Gucci because he was there at the time and knew the people involved.

    • Snappyfish says:

      I didn’t like it either but it was beautiful to watch. Clothes, interior design & style were glorious. I was upset from the start at the beginning & that the dogs didn’t survive

  6. Esmerelda says:

    As an Italian, I feel that sometimes we are just an object of mockery to some Americans: a filmmaker hears “Italian tragedy” and it becomes an excuse for staging the most operatic, over the top, drama, sidelining the real tragedy as something that did not in fact happen to real people, and relatively recently too.
    Don’t get me started on the accent: Italians don’t speak English with an Italian accent among themselves – either hire Italian actors and make the movie in Italian, or have English speaking actors go with standard RP. The Guccis were Tuscan, the most correct regional accent in Italy.
    I agree completely with Tom Ford’s review: he has been quite fair, and he has outlined the many issues of this movie with elegance and restraint.

    • Marcel says:

      As an Australian I agree.
      I’ll never watch a film with Leto in it because he’s a predator. And that’s all I think about when he’s onscreen.
      Even if he wasn’t in it… I’d love an accurate, self aware & fearlessly honest exploration of this tragedy. But I don’t think major American film studios are capable of that. It just becomes about the glamour, aesthetic & cheap stereotypes. Because cheap stereotypes don’t disturb hollow prettiness. There’s probably expectations to that rule but I’m yet to see one.

      And yeah the poor accents annoy me no end. I’m not even from Italy. I just have Italian friends. I don’t see why they can’t hire two or three American big names and then have other parts played by Italians or character actors who are good at accents.

      It’s such a pity because it is an interesting story. Hopefully one day I find another film or a doco on the subject.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        I’ve actually been surprised not to see more criticism about the accents (oh, everyone’s saying Jared’s is over the top, but I haven’t seen people saying that frankly, it is pretty offensive stereotypical–and of Italian-Americans to boot, so a geographically faulty stereotype).

      • Coco says:

        OMG yes the accents were terrible, I was amazed by the comments on here before the movie came out. My sister the first time she saw the trailer thought it was a Russian accent.

    • Sunny says:

      How is Tuscany the most correct regional accent in Italy?

      Language is organic.

      The Italian spoken in the North is not superior or better than the Italian spoken in the South.

      Just like the English spoken in England is not superior or more correct than the English spoken in the Deep South of the U.S.

      • Megan says:

        There’s a standard, literary accent in every nation state and it is based on one regional dialect. In Italy’s case, it’s the Tuscan accent. I bet that what the poster was referring to.

      • Eleonor says:

        Language is not organic: in Italy we had a language for every state we used to have.
        The Italian standard language is based on Tuscany language for historical reasons.
        First of all: Dante Alighieri, probably one of the greatest poet ever lived on planet earth, wrote in his own language. Tuscan.
        Centuries later Alessandro Manzoni, from Milan, one of our major writers, around the first half of 1800, lived in Tuscany for a while, to learn the language (unfortunately that didn’t help him, because his work is awful).
        All the writers who came after him learned Tuscany.
        Second: the Tuscan dialect is the only dialect comprehensible from North to South because it was used for centuries as an “international language” in the peninsula. So commercial and litterary reasons together.
        So yes, if you want to learn the “standard” of the Italian language Toscana is the place to go.

      • tealily says:

        Sunny, you’re right. I feel like the idea of a “correct” (educated, upper class) way of speaking is going by the wayside in some places. I’m an English speaker and it strikes me that we’ve been getting more regional dialects in both American and British media recently, but it sounds like that must not be the case in Italy.

        I always think of a conversation I had with a British friend who came from an area with what was considered an unsavory regional accent explaining to me “but I speak the Queen’s English!” Another was given elocution lessons as a child!

    • AlpineWitch says:

      As an Italian from Tuscany who worked for Gucci AND speaks English with an Italian accent with other Italians (if required by the presence of non-natives), I cannot even start from where you got it wrong.

      Also many of the Gucci family members had adopted a very northern accent and had an accent nowhere close to the traditional Tuscan one.

      For international commenters:
      Tuscan is NOT the perfect accent but the dialect of Tuscany was adopted as national language after Italy’s unification, and the other languages spoken were disregarded. About 600 dialects and languages are still spoken in Italy.

  7. LightPurple says:

    He’s right. The movie is overly long and bloated, bogging down in the middle. Serious editing would have helped considerably. And choose a focus, either the marriage breakdown or the business falling apart, but not both. It’s not really clear why Maurizio rejects Patrizia so suddenly and so thoroughly. It’s like a switch is turned off. Gaga’s performance is good, although murderous Patrizia is much more subdued than rising Patrizia. Jeremy Irons’s performance is very good and elegant restraint. It’s hard to believe that his character and Leto’s are living on the same planet, never mind being members of the same earthly family.

  8. 123Qwerty says:

    What was wrong with Dynasty?

  9. TheRickestRick says:

    You don’t have to dive deep at all to find horrific stories of jared leto and underage girls and very aggressive, degrading behavior. He’s a f**cking monster and I don’t know why no one is doing anything about it! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, to quote mugatu!

  10. Lala11_7 says:

    They had the RIGHT cast …with the exception of Leto…cause he can KICK ROCKS…and the WRONG Director

  11. locamg says:

    I can’t get past Gaga’s new face.

  12. BeanieBean says:

    I’m in complete agreement with Tom Ford. Beautiful movie, but so many scenes just went on & on & served no purpose. It was beautiful to see, with sumptuous interiors & locations, not to mention the clothes & jewelry, but still far too long. It was also confusing; I never knew where we were–NYC? Italy? Milan, Lake Como, now we’re at a farm? And Pacino seemed to be doing Brando doing The Godfather, or maybe himself as an aging Michael. In one scene, I swear he was going to give his son Paolo (Leto) the kiss of death, because Paolo surely seemed like the Fredo of the family.

  13. Sof says:

    “As the running time ticks by, viewers are subject to pointless and sometimes confusing scenes that seem to exist solely for the purpose of allowing the leading actors to ‘act.’”
    I feel this with every movie nowadays, do they really have to last 3 hours? Can’t we go back to the 90 minutes era?
    Haven’t seen House of Gucci yet, I will eventually.
    I agree with you on A Single Man, loved that one!

    • Becks1 says:

      I feel so old bc I say that about almost every movie – omg, it would have been so good if it was a half hour shorter (or an hour in some cases.) there are some movies that need the full 2.5 or 3 hours to tell the story. But those are very very few. Most movies need better editing these days.

  14. Eleonor says:

    I think they should have cast Danny De Vito, instead on Jared with a prosthetic.
    Having said that I see this movie as a glorified soap opera, and that’s how I am going to watch it.
    Personally I think a movie is a movie and not the truth, if I want to watch something truthful I watch a documentary, I don’t go to the cinema.

  15. Bassflower says:

    Adam looks like Gene Simmons here. I bet money he’ll play him in a bio.

  16. toodle says:

    I’ll take all of Jared’s suits during this press tour – especially the blue one above!

  17. Emma says:

    I can’t imagine Tom Ford would have really wanted to film this story. And if he had — he would have made it a completely different film with mostly different actors (I could see him working with Jeremy Irons, but not really any of the others).

    Also … yeah, I had forgotten what a scumbag Jared Leto is. Repulsive.

  18. Isabella says:

    I sort of enjoyed the movie, but forgot all about it within hours. Part of the tonal problem comes from casting non-Italians with anybody who has dark hair. Jared, Selma, Jeremy, etc. We don’t do this anymore with Hispanics–and I wish we’d stop. Think how interesting the Jared role and the other ones would’ve have been if the actors were authentic, just being themselves, comfortable in their own culture. But no, we get fake accents and hand waving.

    On the other hand, I loved Adam Driver in the role. I was sorry when his character died and was happy the film pretty much ended there. I had no stomach for a show trial with more people with black hair pretending to be Italian. Enough already.