Being The Ricardos (15)
Being The Ricardos (15)
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Runtime: 2hr 11m
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, J. K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, Clark Gregg
Synopsis: Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) 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, Being the Ricardos. 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 ground-breaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.”
American playwright, screenwriter and film director, Aaron Sorkin [The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), Molly’s Game (2017)] brings us this comedy-drama, inspired by the legendary US TV show I Love Lucy starring real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (whose surname on the show was “Ricardo”). The action takes places during one week in 1952 when they face a series of personal and professional crises that threaten their careers, their relationship and their hit TV show.
Being the Ricardos imagines a stressed Ball (an impressive turn by Nicole Kidman embodying Lucy and likely to get an Oscar nod) dealing with the tabloid Confidential’s rumours about her husband’s infidelity, and career-endangering rumblings in the reactionary press by Walter Winchell that she is a Communist, all the while striving with unashamed perfectionism to get a misfiring scene exactly right. Lucy is pregnant with her second child, something she and Desi want to include in their show, despite pregnant women being taboo on TV. Javier Bardem captures the roguish personality of Arnaz with his wit and charm.
The film also includes cutaways to a fake documentary in the 1990s about I Love Lucy, featuring talking-head interviews with key behind-the-scenes figures: head writer Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale in the 1950s and John Rubinstein in the 1990s), staff writer Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat and Linda Lavin), and staff writer Bob Carroll (Jake Lacy and Ronny Cox). Being the Ricardos’ comprehensive approach also includes flashbacks to earlier times in Lucy and Desi’s relationship.
Nina Arianda and JK Simmons are Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played their neighbours Ethel and Fred, and the ensemble playing from the cast is excellent.
Aaron Sorkin captures the time of the legendary, pioneering I Love Lucy sitcom which cast Latino and white together, pioneered the three-camera sitcom and became the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons; episodes of the show have been syndicated in dozens of languages across the world and remain popular with American audiences. Sorkin cleverly emphasises that Lucille Ball’s forte was as one of the more gifted physical comics of the 20th century rather than verbal.
The cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth, costumes by Susan Lyall, production design by Jon Hutman and makeup are all exceptional. Ultimately the film demonstrates a real appreciation of the world of Lucille and Desi.
Being the Ricardos can only reflect its subjects’ brilliant star power, but Nicole Kidman has a ball with Aaron Sorkin’s razor-sharp dialogue and fans of television history will find much of interest.
Being the Ricardos is in cinemas, and on 21 December on Amazon Prime Video
Images courtesy of: Amazon Prime