House of Gucci

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Is "House of Gucci" (MGM) the real article or a trashy knock-off? Whether considered artistically or morally, the answer would have to be, something in between.

Aesthetically, and despite its tragic conclusion, for most of its running time this fact-based dynastic saga, fueled by tumultuous emotions, has the feel of a high-end soap opera. Call it an extended episode of "Dallas" transplanted from the world of Texas oil barons to the runways of Milan.

Although it's mostly ethically respectable, moreover, as scripted by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, director Ridley Scott's adaptation of Sara Gay Forden's 2001 book "The House of Gucci" includes an unnecessarily explicit liaison between its two principals that severely restricts its appropriate audience. Indeed, although glossy and well-acted, the film is a hothouse affair from beginning to end.

A chance meeting at a party in the 1970s leads to a romance between Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), the middle-class daughter of a trucking executive, and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) who, despite his famous lineage, is quietly studying law, not fashion. Defying the opposition of Maurizio's imperious father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), who initially regards Patrizia as a gold-digger, the couple eventually marries.