Lady Gaga mesmerises as House Of Gucci's scheming Black Widow

House Of Gucci (15), (158 mins), Cineworld Cinemas.

House Of Gucci - MGM
House Of Gucci - MGM

A fantastic performance from Lady Gaga more than manages to keep interest alive in this epic, at times slightly rambling, chronicle of the fall of the House Of Gucci, a film which comes with a punishingly long running time of more than two and a half hours.

Maybe it’s not a performance quite as remarkable as the one she delivered in A Star Is Born, but then again A Star Is Born is a much better film overall.

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But certainly it shows her incredible versatility – for this is a very, very different part to play, someone who has got to sit somewhere between scheming minx and grievously wronged wife.

Lady Gaga is Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, who plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of renowned fashion designer Guccio Gucci.

She received 29 years in jail for her pains.

Maurizio’s father – the ailing and arch Rodolfo, beautifully by Jeremy Irons – claims to see straight through her as a gold-digger when she first gets her hooks into the rather dull Maurizio, a law student, rather unassuming, rather characterless in fact.

The result is a rift in the family, with Maurizio working instead for Rodolfo’s brother, Aldo Gucci – who ran the fashion house for 33 years until the mid-1980s – another great performance, this time from Al Pacino.

But Lady Macbeth-like, driving his ambition, Patrizia ensures that Maurizio widens the family divide still further.

Eventually Maurizio turns – and more damagingly turns his marital attentions elsewhere. Which is when we arguably see Patrizia in her true colours.

The Gucci family have labelled the film insulting and painful; and the real-life Patrizia is apparently puzzled why she wasn’t consulted.

Whether they had the right to be involved is, of course, a whole other argument.

But there’s no doubting the brilliance of Lady Gaga’s acting in this epic which covers around a quarter of a century through to Maurizio’s murder on March 27, 1995.

Despite her divorce she’d famously claimed “I still feel like a Gucci – in fact, the most Gucci of them all.” And she’s certainly at home in the power games the family play – games that clearly don’t come instinctively to Maurizio and equally clearly wouldn’t have come at all had it not been for her.

It’s Patrizia/Lady Gaga who drives the film. She does so superbly, and it’s impossible not to be drawn into it all, a film which certainly has all the elements of soap opera.

But, rather better than that, the film is actually rather reminiscent of that brilliant TV series all those years ago, I, Claudius, with its family feuding, endless plotting and eruption into murder. It’s about power, but here power is money, precisely what makes Patrizia’s world go round.

The result is a fascinating, wonderfully detailed portrait of one of the most infamous Black Widows of recent times. A better film would have been half an hour shorter; but Gaga is mesmerising in another performance to savour.