Critics are saying bravo to singer-actor Lady Gaga for her performance in Ridley Scott’s new “House of Gucci.”
The flashy family drama about the scandalous meltdown of its titular fashion empire stars the “Chromatica” artist as Patrizia Reggiani, the real-life Italian socialite who was convicted in 1997 of plotting the murder of her ex-husband. Her former lover, business mogul Maurizio Gucci, is played in the film by Adam Driver.
Reviews for “House of Gucci,” which opened in theaters Wednesday, have generally been lukewarm, amounting to a mediocre 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews aggregator site. But even some of the most critical ones agree: Gaga is “transfixing,” “coldly electrifying” and “wildly watchable” as the film’s vengeful femme fatale.
“As in her previous unhappily ever after Cinderella story, ‘A Star Is Born,’ Lady Gaga temporarily dons a working-class shell, downplaying her natural magnetism in order to maximize it,” writes Times film critic Justin Chang.
“Before long, Patrizia stands revealed for what she is: an avatar of ambition and, like Gaga herself, a couturier’s delight, born to wear the silver-sequined evening gowns and furry après-ski ensembles dreamed up for her by costume designer Janty Yates.”
Also among the star-studded cast of the Oscar-bait period piece are Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Salma Hayek, but Chang asserts that “no one in ‘House of Gucci’ … can ultimately contend with the force of nature that is Lady Gaga.”
“In a movie that delights in its own counterfeit charms, she is very much the real deal,” he writes.
Here’s what others had to say about the Oscar and Grammy winner’s “operatic,” “full-tilt” performance as Patrizia Reggiani.
New York Times
“About those Guccis. You’ve heard of ham? Well, this is a family-size salumi platter,” writes A.O. Scott. “Adam Driver is relatively restrained as Maurizio, who as a law student meets Patrizia Reggiani at a party, where she charmingly mistakes him for a bartender. She comes from a less exalted family — her father owns a small trucking company — and she is played by Lady Gaga with the verve of an Anna Magnani avatar in a Super Mario video game.”
“Beneath the Ferrari-red snowsuits and wild wiggery, [Gaga] vibrates with an intensity that often supersedes the sillier bits, every hand clap and espresso-cup tap another brick in a highly GIF-able whole,” writes Leah Greenblatt. “It’s clear she’s playing for her life, though it’s less obvious whether she’s in the same movie as her costars.”
“Confirming that she’s one of the most hypnotically self-possessed actors on the planet, Lady Gaga plays the already ridiculous Patrizia Reggiani as a caricature of a caricature,” writes David Ehrlich.
“The result is a singular double-negative of a performance that gradually humanizes a social-climbing succubus as she tumbles back down towards hell; the film around her might stiffen down its morbid final stretch, but Gaga seems to gain even more control over herself as Patrizia spirals towards murder.”
“Gaga’s face is avid and open, with a fervor that volts through her eyes; she has a born actress’s gift for letting you read her emotions while holding a nugget of mystery in check,” writes Owen Gleiberman.
“As Gaga plays Patrizia, she acts out how it’s possible to set your sights on someone wealthy and fall in love with him. Their courtship has a lusty imploring affection.”
“Alongside the inevitably fabulous period costume and production design, the high point is Gaga’s full-tilt performance, even — or perhaps especially — when she morphs into Steven Van Zandt on ‘The Sopranos’ while ordering a hit on her estranged husband,” writes David Rooney.
“In a performance more often than not dialed up to 110, Gaga puts on a transfixing show, bringing fierce charisma and ferocious drive to Patrizia, an accountant at her family’s trucking company who married Maurizio Gucci in 1972 and had him gunned down by a hitman in 1995. Even when she’s just lighting a cigarette or stirring an espresso, Gaga hurls herself into the character with savage gusto. Whenever she’s onscreen, the movie bristles with electricity.”
“Gaga, who has long been a world-class scholar in the serving of lewks, makes the costumes speak for her character as her style evolves from swinging-’60s office sexpot — one character compares her, early on, to Elizabeth Taylor, whom she’s often made up to resemble — to ’80s power-suit boss lady, complete with gold snake choker and voluminous black bouffant hair,” writes Dana Stevens.
“Gaga’s performance and self-presentation are, in the best sense, operatic.”
“Gucci is a label built on a carefully concocted air of tasteful luxury, but House of Gucci is a movie that mostly understands itself to be high-end trash,” writes Alison Willmore.
“No one onscreen has a better grasp of this than Lady Gaga. … There’s a touch of Nomi Malone to Gaga’s performance, which is fueled by a barely disguised ravenousness, a desire to eat the world in one determined bite. … Gaga is wildly watchable in the role, broad but unwinking, an absolute scream, and the movie only really makes sense when it’s about her.”
“[A]t the center of it all is Gaga’s Patrizia, who Maurizio declares is a dead ringer for Elizabeth Taylor. (You can kind of see his point.),” writes Alissa Wilkinson.
“She schemes, she cries, she makes decisions Maurizio’s too spineless to make himself. She calls a psychic on TV and becomes her best friend. She strokes Paolo’s ego and stabs him in the back. Gaga climbs inside the skin of — if not the real Patrizia — a fantastical approximation who smokes like a chimney, narrows her eyes till you expect lasers to shoot out, and turns every single scene she appears in into a grand, glorious showcase. Her hand gestures alone are worthy of close reading. She’s Lady Macbeth as diva, darling, and dancing queen.”