Nicole Kidman & Javier Bardem shine in Being the Ricardos
Aaron Sorkin brings his trademark writing to a story about the relationship between I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Amazon Studios, Being the Ricardos. Sorkin also serves as the film's director, which stars Nicole Kidman as Lucy and Javier Bardem as Ricky. Amid a successful series run of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear, and cultural taboos.
Being the Ricardos not only serves as an unveiling look at the behind-the-scenes process of a successful sitcom but 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 hit play on Being the Ricardos knowing little about the relationship between Lucy and Ricky. While I have heard the names numerous times in my forty years of life, the most I have ever seen of the show is a scene in Pretty Woman. After viewing the film, I hit up YouTube and watched some archived footage of Lucille Ball to get a sense of the actress compared to Kidman's portrayal.
I found that Kidman has Ball's mannerisms down pat for the most part. It does not hurt to have a dialogue champion writing for you. Kidman and Bardem are magic on-screen, sharing kindred chemistry that comes off as natural. I generally felt compassion for the working relationship and was fond of their love story. I also admired the charisma that both actors brought to the work ethic of the talent they were portraying on screen.
While the film is the Nicole & Javier show, Sorkin gives others moments as well. Portraying fellow actors William Frawley and Vivian Vance (who played Fred & Ethel on the show), J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda are great. I loved seeing how their working relationship differed from Lucy and Ricky's as it presented a different layer of show business.
I will point out that Sorkin does not follow a traditional linear narrative for the film, so the angle may get confusing for some viewers. In addition, Being the Ricardos comes across more like a love letter to television instead of a warts and all biopic of Lucille Ball. Nevertheless, Kidman's performance is undeniable, and she alone makes the film worth viewing.
Final Grade: B-
Being the Ricardos is in limited theaters and available to stream today on Amazon Prime.