In brief, the film follows the Gucci family and their personal downfall. MGM’s official synopsis reads, “House of Gucci is inspired by the shocking true story of the family empire behind the Italian fashion house of Gucci. Spanning three decades of love, betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder, we see what a name means, what it’s worth, and how far a family will go for control.”
Pacino is by far the best part of House of Gucci. He plays Aldo Gucci, a man who brings Gaga’s Reggiani and her onscreen husband Maurizio Gucci (played well, but fairly unmemorably by Adam Driver) into the family business. This ultimately turns out to be his downfall, courtesy of Reggiani and Maurizio’s scheming and backstabbing.
From the moment Pacino appears on the big screen, audiences are reassured that they are in fact watching a good movie (the erratic accents initially make one wonder in the opening scenes of the film). His presence has a calming effect, reminding viewers that they are in great hands—those of a masterful performer whose iconic roles have included Tony Montana, Michael Corleone and Frank Slade.
As Aldo’s journey (and subsequent trip to the bottom of the food chain) progresses, Pacino’s performance becomes even more nuanced. At a particularly pivotal moment in which Leto’s Paolo delivers bad news, Pacino's screams of ‘No! No!’ are quite harrowing and heartfelt. While audience members clearly saw all of this coming, Aldo’s realization that the end is in sight is likely the most emotionally charged and poignant part of the film.
And then, of course, there is his final scene later in the movie where (no spoilers) he makes an alarming discovery courtesy of a particular Gucci shoe. Pacino plays the moment beautifully, with equal parts disgust, disappointment and resignation.
There has been some trashy gossip written about Pacino’s appearance and how the real-life Gucci family was displeased by how Aldo looked onscreen. But these are mere distractions from what should be the topline takeaway from the film: Pacino is still at his very best at the age of 81 and takes what could otherwise be a lackluster film to an entirely different level with his portrayal.
And while all the respect in the world should be given to Lady Gaga, the real Oscar buzz should be surrounding one name and one name only: Mr. Al Pacino.