Being the Ricardos
review by Bobby Blakey
The complex relationship and career of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is one that is way more layered than most people realize. Behind the laughs were a troubled marriage, breaking down barriers in Hollywood and so much more. Now director Aaron Sorkin is taking on the power couple with Being The Ricardos starring Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Jake Lacy, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, and Alia Shawkat.
Being the Ricardos follows Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz who are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos in Academy Award®-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.”
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of Nicole Kidman, but the rest of the cast and Sorkin was enough to be intrigued. The trailer looked interesting, but I wasn’t quite sure the plan to the story layout and with Sorkin you never can tell. Fans may have preferred a full on biopic as opposed to the focus being on this one week of making an episode, but I actually think it works better to give the entire cast a chance to shine throughout and they all do.
Kidman and Bardem both fully embody these real life stars. Kidman has captured the Lucy mannerisms and persona well while also bringing a powerful yet fragile persona to that of Lucille Ball. J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda steal the show as William Fraley aka Fred and Vivian Vance aka Ethel. It is widely known of their dislike for each other and it is on full display here. While the dislike is real, it plays well for the more humorous elements to the movie, but had to have been an uncomfortable work environment. Even more depth to the story si the ensemble cast playing the various producers, writers etc., that helps to drive the story in a way that makes it flow a lot that the typical biopic.
I must give credit to Kidman and the entire cast for knocking it out of the park. There is no doubt and insane level of difficulty in trying to not only take on an iconic character, but also the iconic actors that played them. To bounce between these roles that are so different while still making the audience believe that its them is truly inspiring to watch and everyone does a great job. They not only hit all the marks, but also still shine through as themselves to create some truly great performances.
While the story does focus on making this one episode, it does bounce around a bit in time to get a better sense of the careers and relationship of Lucy and Desi. Seeing the depth of passion for the job and each other further makes you understand why they were so successful and powerful in the industry. I would have loved to see more recreations of the episodes, but no doubt would have overshadowed the bigger story. The ones that are here are well executed and fans will recognized them all instantly.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of I Love Lucy of the Lucille Ball this is still a captivating story and window into the inner workings of the Hollywood of the time and worthy of checking out.
Decide for yourself and check out Being The Ricardos when it hits theaters on December 10th or on Prime Video on December 21st.