Start with the accents. Ridley Scott’s new movie, “House of Gucci,” is about one of Italy’s most notable and notorious fashion families, but it is an English-language movie starring an extraordinary cast of American and British actors—Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, and Jack Huston—who speak in heavily Italian-accented English. This decision renders the movie ridiculous from the start, like a Monty Python parody of the fashion world. It serves no dramatic purpose whatsoever, but it does serve a significant commercial and industrial one: it turns the acting into stunt acting, exposing the exceptional exertion required of the performers in navigating the dialogue’s game of phonic hopscotch. It’s a verbal variety of Oscar bait, an elocutionary version of wrestling the bear, the effortful stunt business that won Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar for “The Revenant.” The trickery may attract awards, but it does the actors of “House of Gucci” no favors.
The added verbal obstacles are all the more regrettable because the film’s script, written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, is packed with sharp repartee that reverberates fascinatingly far beyond the confines of the characters’ specific troubles. Yet Scott focusses with narrow-minded obstinacy on the troubles at hand, and the movie that results feels like a true-crime TV miniseries sliced and diced to feature length. Jack Webb couldn’t have done a more rigorous job of filtering for “just the facts” than Scott has done, at the expense of any societal and historical resonance that the drama packs and any psychological depth that the characters possess.