BEING THE RICARDOS review
An Inside Look at a Cultural Phenomenon
In 1951, a cultural phenomenon hit the United States with a tremendous impact and changed the course of television history. That show of course being “I Love Lucy“, starring Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). “Being the Ricardos” gives us a glimpse behind-the-scenes of perhaps the most tumultuous week in the show’s history; the week the stars battled rumors and even themselves. The press published a story play claiming that Lucille Ball was a communist and, given the time, everyone knew that could spell the end of their success. Between the threat of cancellation and the constant swirling of rumors involving Desi‘s evening activities, Lucille struggles to maintain her sanity amidst the chaos. The rest of the film showcases the tumultuous week and all the surrounding events that occurred with it.
From writer and director Aaron Sorkin, “Being the Ricardos” is a truly charismatic and nostalgic look at the television classic. Sorkin’s writing provides witty, unending dialogue and conversations that flow effortlessly and authentically from his performers. The film heavily relies on its leads and they do deliver, most notably Kidman, but Bardem carries his own as well. While neither of them are direct look-a-likes of their roles, they play them convincingly. The supporting cast consisting of J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, and Tony Hale round-out a strong, entertaining ensemble; but make no mistake. Kidman and Bardem carry the load. While the film’s first half sets-up an inside look at the show, it’s the second half the falls flat and fails to deliver the promise. Taking place in the span of one whole week beginning on Monday, it feels like it takes an eternity to jump from Wednesday to finally Friday. It must also be said that the odd transitions, from re-creations of famous scenes to side plot lines, can be a bit puzzling at times. “Being the Ricardos” is structured with interviews from the real people we see played on-screen and while they do add insight and detail to the story, unfortunately they also add to the uneven tone of the film and are distracting at times. While I know many were hoping for the film to be a major awards player, I don’t think it will deliver to your expectations. At two hours and 11 minutes, the film feels long as we wait for the resolution to play out; a resolution we all know too well.
Though its theatrical run is beginning this Friday, the film will serve as a great watch when it hits Amazon Prime on December 21st! Even the lightest of “I Love Lucy” fans will have something to love and cherish!
BEING THE RICARDOS is rated R for language