Gravity, you say?
Even spacier than the calamatious Sandra Bullock film current burning up theatres: that gold-lamé TV movie that hit earth over the weekend. House of Versace. On Lifetime. About the trials and tribulations of a modest So...
Gravity, you say?
Even spacier than the calamatious Sandra Bullock film current burning up theatres: that gold-lamé TV movie that hit earth over the weekend. House of Versace. On Lifetime. About the trials and tribulations of a modest Southern Italian clan that morphed into a story of murder, genius, family strife, the invention of the ’90s-era “supermodels” and the ladling itself of a still-stirs recipe of celebrity and fashion.
Meeting the minimum expectations of a Lifetime concoction — it airs again on the channel, Wednesday eve at 8 p.m. — it errs on the side of camp, and has lines that one might expect of such a production. “I want it in canary yellow!” “If you’re going to put me on a leash, it better be diamond-studded!” “Stupid moon, what would it do if the sun went out?” Sinking her teeth into the starring role: Gina Gershon, as Donatella.
Naturally, I ate it up. This, even though I’ve read the book it’s based on — Deborah Ball’s masterful picking-apart of a family and a time — and know it doesn’t even come close to re-enacting its true operatic excess. (There is a scene, though, in the flick in which, after Gianni’s brutal fresco murder on Ocean Drive, Puccini’s Tosca plays, and his sister looks forlornly into the distance.)
That this TV trifle merely glides over Gianni’s funeral, in 1997, is perhaps the most hair-pulling-out travesty. The mother of all fashion funerals, and staged with Cecil B. Demille precision, it was at the Duomo, in Milan, and an entire movie could be made just about it. Yes, Princess Diana was there, sitting beside Elton John — as the movie finger-points — but directly behind them was Karl Lagerfeld, who was Gianni’s friend, and Giorgio Armani, who really wasn’t. Slipping out of the pews, at one point: John and Sting. Time to do a duet a psalm — and as Ball’s book pointed out, this being the Duomo, the 78-year-old priest who ran things had demanded that the two pop icons audition before he’d give them permission to sing.
Model-like men dressed in black Versace suits had been deployed to escort notables to their seats, including Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who would be dead the next year. Di, whose time was also limited — her own demise would come in just six weeks — famously shed her jacket halfway through the mass, unaware she was breaking the church’s no-go, re: uncovered skin. Meanwhile, supermodel Naomi Campbell — who was unconsolable — covered up grandly, with a voluminous dark veil falling to her shoulders.
I could go on.
There were several questions I had while watching House of Versace. For one: Hey, what’s Pierre Trudeau doing talking to Donatella Versace? With our own Colm Feore cast in the role of business-minded Santo Versace — the other surviving Versace sibling — I kept getting flashbacks of his role as the pirouetting PM in that old CBC miniseries. (Indeed, in this telling, two of three Versaces are Canadian, it turns out, with our Enrico Colantoni essaying the role — doomed! — of Gianni himself.)
The English-ness only seemed to emphasize how little the film understands, really, about the very Italian-ness of this clan
Some other questions: How is it possible to tell this story without setting a scene at the Versace villa at Villa Fontanelle, the glamour ground zero on Lake Como that Gianni bought and had Queen Elizabeth’s landscaper brought in to whip its gardens? Or, for that matter: How is this saga complete with nary a mention of that barely there green frock worn by Jennifer Lopez to the Grammy’s that one year? (Phew … the film does, at the very least, have a throwaway line to Versace’s famed “safety-pin” dress that Elizabeth Hurley wore back in 1994 — a dress that’d go on in fashion her-story!)
Filippo Monforte/AFP/Getty ImagesThe real Donatella, at Versace's Spring/Summer 2014 runway show in Milan on Sept. 20, 2013.
But … wait … why aren’t these Calabrians speaking Italian to one another at the dinner table? That was, perhaps, my numero uno-est