Can Lady Gaga’s “homing missile” save this film?
Scott’s own love for design clearly dictates many of his decisions regarding the direction of the film. The story spans three decades, starting in the 1970s, which gives fashion a lot of leeway to denote the passing of time and, in Gaga, Scott has found an enthusiastic collaborator. Patrizia’s clothes and hairstyles become an intrinsic part of her performance as she gradually refines them – to a point. No matter what she wears, she always leaves a lot of leeway until Maurizio gives her up for a younger, classier woman (Camille Cottin). At this point, desperation takes over and she stops caring about her appearance.
Scott’s direction is most uncertain when he tries to muster gallows humor to tackle the most bizarre aspect of the story – Patrizia’s alliance with astrologer Pina Auriemma (Salma Hayek), to prepare her revenge against her ex-husband. It’s a combination of comic book and ghoulishness that needs the kind of tongue-in-cheek gifts that were never in Scott’s arsenal.
Gaga could have overwhelmed Driver in their scenes together, but her performance is so finely calibrated that you can see the seismic shift in his feelings towards her long before her. As she boils, he pulls back while still being too well behaved to tell. But once his dignity hardens into arrogance, the response is volcanic.
Despite his associations with that other Italian dynasty, the Corleones, Pacino is not guilty of portraying Aldo as a callous thug, as the Guccis have complained. Along with his flippant attitude towards tax laws, his Aldo has an outgoing charm, and Irons also brings complexity to Rodolfo, who softens upon learning that he will be a grandfather.
Scott has made a gripping, meticulously edited film, but the perversely paradoxical nature of the Gucci tragedy has eluded him.
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