Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.
‘I Love Lucy’ is one of the most popular and beloved US sitcoms of all time and its legacy has endured long past its time on the air in the 1950s. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the stars of the show, as well as being married in real life, and this biopic goes behind the scenes of both the show and their relationship at a time when several challenges threatened to engulf the couple. ‘Being the Ricardos’ is directed by Aaron Sorkin, who initially seems an odd choice for this material, until you remember he created ‘The Newsroom’ and ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’, both of which were TV shows that went behind the scenes to show the creative process behind making a TV show.
The central thrust of ‘Being the Ricardos’ surrounds accusations that Ball was a communist, at a time when even an unfounded accusation could have career ending repercussions. Fighting this tabloid speculation plays out against the drama of Lucille and Desi’s rocky relationship and conflicts within the creative process on ‘I Love Lucy’. Nicole Kidman & Javier Bardem play Lucille & Desi and they have the star power to play a couple of individuals who were big stars in their day, at least once you get used to their accents! They are at their best in scenes focusing on their relationship when they get the chance to bounce off each other, spitting Sorkin’s trademark dialogue at one another. Kidman in particular is very good and seems to particularly relish getting her teeth into Sorkin’s writing, even as that writing is perhaps not as sharp as we have come to expect. The supporting cast is well chosen with J.K. Simmons and Tony Hale particular highlights, although I cared little for the odd choice to use a documentary-esque talking heads format with older versions of the characters reflecting back on the events at the time.
I’m generally a big fan of Sorkin’s whip-smart dialogue but I found it a little tiring here and not best suited to the material – or perhaps the material just wasn’t that interesting. Either way, it rarely pops until all of the conflicts introduced start to come to a head, some at the same time, and ‘Being the Ricardos‘ undoubtedly finishes strongly. That provides some gripping material and I really enjoyed the film’s final third, but the journey to that point didn’t grab me as much as Sorkin’s previous cinema work and whilst ‘Being the Ricardos’ definitely has its moments, it only partially brings these stars of the time fully to life.
Directed By: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J. K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin, Ronny Cox, Clark Gregg, Nelson Franklin and Christopher Denham