It doesn’t get better than this. Much like Lucille Ball, Aaron Sorkin is a master storyteller and uses his magic, once again, to write and direct Being the Ricardos, an intimate look at a woman, a marriage and a high-pressure job of performing for 60 million people every Monday at nine o’clock. While some viewers may expect a chronological biopic or a recreation of grape-stomping, chocolate conveyor belts and Vitameatavegamin, Sorkin instead places the film’s heroine during a tumultuous week of shooting I Love Lucy, from the Monday morning table read to camera blocking to the Friday night live studio audience. It allows viewers not only into the world of the television sitcom and the genius behind the physically comedic Lucy Ricardo, but into the intimate, unglamorous world Ball.
Together with the talented Nicole Kidman, Sorkin doesn’t tell the audience who Lucy is, he shows us what she wants: a home, a faithful husband, a voice, to name a few. She wants freedom to be pregnant on air, to run a show without infringing on Desi Arnaz’s ego, to challenge the producer and writing staff to be better, to not dumb things down for either the characters or the viewers. The script, unsurprisingly, is compact and rich, always keeping you at attention with flash forwards and flashbacks, all while keeping you wondering what was going to happen. If Lucille Ball is accused of being a communist, will the show go on? We know it will … yet, we still watch with suspense of what happens next.
Kidman and Javier Bardem embody the spirit of Ball and Arnaz, painting a picture of a doomed marriage and wildly successful business partnership. The backdrop of Los Angeles infuses their story with both old Hollywood glamour and tired melancholiness, whether they’re at the top of Mulholland Drive at sunrise or on a Desilu Productions soundstage on a weekday afternoon. It’s done tastefully and subtly, never over-playing the time period or showing even a glimpse of the Hollywoodland sign.
Along with a stellar supporting cast in J.K. Simmons, Tony Hale, Nina Arianda, Alia Shawkat and Jake Lacy, Being the Ricardos is an entertaining, important story that reminds us that our heroes within our four walls at home or three walls on television are just as human as we are.
Amazon Studios will release BEING THE RICARDOS in theaters on December 10, 2021; Globally on Prime Video December 21, 2021.