The former Gucci creative director, who also wrote and directed the movies A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals, has shared his thoughts on Ridley Scott's dramatization of the intrigue and machinations that once surrounded the fashion dynasty — and he didn't hold back.
In a new essay for the digital weekly Air Mail, Ford notes that he was confounded by the film, finding parts of it, particularly Lady Gaga's performance, compelling, while other aspects struck him as quite literally laughable.
"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," he writes. "Was it a farce or a gripping tale of greed? I often laughed out loud, but was I supposed to?"
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage; Fabio Lovino/MGM Studios Tom Ford; Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci in 'House of Gucci'
Ford clarifies at the start of his essay that his "opinion is perhaps biased," as he knew and worked alongside Maurizio Gucci, the slain former head of the fashion house played by Adam Driver in the film. (Ford even appears in the film as a minor character, played by Reeve Carney.)
"I also knew many of the other players in this saga and was interviewed on multiple occasions for the book that was the source material for the film, so it is hard for me to divorce reality from the glossy, heavily lacquered soap opera that I witnessed on screen," he continues.
Indeed, Ford adds, he struggled with the film's tone given the tragic true-life nature of the events it depicts: the relationship between Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga) and Maurizio, whose 1995 assassination was orchestrated by Reggiani.
"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," Ford writes. "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."
As such, the designer is heavily critical of the film's campier elements, particularly the "over-the-top" performances from Al Pacino and Jared Leto, whom he saw as competing "to see who can chew up the most scenery."
"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," writes Ford, adding, "Both performers are given license to be absolute hams — and not of the prosciutto variety."
MGM Lady Gaga and Adam Driver in 'House of Gucci'
Still, Ford praises other cast members, including Driver — who "gives a subtle and nuanced performance," he writes — and especially Gaga, whom he dubs "the true star of the film."
He continues, "In her often over-the-top portrayal of Patrizia Gucci, her accent migrates occasionally from Milan to Moscow. But who cares? Her performance is spot-on. Her face is the thing that one can't take one's eyes off of. When she is on screen, she owns the frame — not an easy task with so many seasoned and talented cast members vying for our attention. Too many, in fact."
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