26 November 2021.
HOUSE OF GUCCI ***1/2
There are films that from the get-go you know you are in good hands. There’s a feeling of anticipation, of mastery of the situation, of the melding of fine acting, dialogue and pacing. But then, it’s a Ridley Scott film – he of such diverse works as “Thelma and Louise”, “Gladiator”, “A Body of Lies”, “A Good Year” – all unforgettable.
There he sits alone, the Gucci heir, in a Roman piazza, impeccably attired. You notice the perfect watch, an espresso in front of him, a smile on his contemplative face – it’s a quiet moment. We’re in for quite a ride from here on, for the film goes into flashback, from the time the exuberant Patrizia Reggiani (played by a brilliant Lady Gaga) meets the shy Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and turns his life upside-down.
Many may not know nor remember details of the family’s power struggles and the tragedy that cut down their elegant Maurizio back in 1995. This film lays it all out in delicious detail – the influence of the over ambitious Patrizia on her husband Maurizio and the intrigues that she concocted to gain more power. Maurizio’s patrician father is played by a brilliant Jeremy Irons, and his uncle humorously portrayed by Al Pacino. There’s even Salma Hayek incarnating Patrizia’s sleazy confidant and fortune-teller, and an eccentric cousin played by an unrecognisable Jared Leto.
It’s a voyeuristic, almost bombastic ride (150 minutes long) into the back-stabbing and treachery that the money and jealousies caused in one of Italy’s most prominent fashion houses. It’s all based on fact that feels stranger than fiction, and it’s something between a soap opera and a Greek tragedy. You won’t forget it.
LES CHOSES HUMAINES (The Accusation) *** (vo French)
Director Yvan Attal has assembled his own family around him in this very topical film about an accusation of rape in a recomposed family. His own son Ben Attal plays the accused son, while his companion (and mother of Ben), Charlotte Gainsbourg, portrays the boy’s mother in the film. Then there’s his usual clan made up of Mathieu Kassovitz as Charlotte’s companion and Pierre Arditi as her first husband and father of the accused, who is now with a wife less than half his age. Let’s call it a very French film…
But to the serious part – it’s an engrossing, troubling ‘she said, he said’ dilemma, both in the various playbacks of events and the courtroom trial that ensues. In its clinical look at families and reality, it feels like a black&white film, and sets forth a topic that is unfortunately too current these days.
DE SON VIVANT *1/2 (vo French)
Despite an excellent director, Emmanuelle Bercot (“La tête haute”, “Mon roi”), and the celebrated Catherine Deneuve along with Benoit Magimel as her son, this film is simply too grey and depressing to bear, for it’s about the mother and son waiting for his imminent death from an incurable cancer. The introduction of a long-lost son makes it even more maudlin.
One has to wonder if the amazing French medical service and dedication shown here is an actual reality for everyone in that country…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.