Review of 'Being the Ricardos'

“Being the Ricardos” tells the story of a traumatic week for comedian Lucille “Lucy” Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her musical partner Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) as they film an episode of the classic “I Love Lucy” television show. Interspersed with the events of that week is interviews from the three main writers and flashbacks to early days when Lucy first met Desi and becoming a television sensation. An article posted in a tabloid that Lucy was a communist despite being cleared by the senate committee the prior week. With this distraction Lucy also reveals she is pregnant with the producers refusing to allow her to reveal on the show. In the week that follows they are all worried about when/if the news might break as it could be the end of their careers as Lucy's worry is reflected by her becoming more and more fixated on perfecting the episode driving the cast and production team to distraction. In the flashbacks we learn of how Lucy, on contract to RKO is known as the “Queen of the B-Movies” and meets Desi, a successful Cuban musician and orchestra leader. When Lucy has a moderate hit with a film circumstances force her to turn to radio in the successful show “My Favorite Husband”. Eventually her performance catches the eye of CBS and Philip Morris who want her to do a show – Which she only agrees to if Desi can play her husband. Back to the present day, the two continue the filming of the episode holding their breath if the news should leak…

Though not really looking like Lucy, Nicole Kidman does a good job mimicking the undeniable force of Mrs. Ball while Javier Bardem's performance is not as compelling as Kidman with a seemingly forced Cuban accent (odd for an actor from Spain). “Being the Ricardos” brings to light what it must have been to be the two most famous people on television in the middle of the 20th century with all of the games they had to play to keep the sponsors (tobacco company Philip Morris), studio (Desilu) and backers happy but at the same time stay true to themselves. It is obvious Lucy's incredible skill as a people manager yet the cracks begin to show when everything is on the line.

The film looks great seeming to capture what it must have been like to have been involved in showbiz at the time. The details of the production help draw us into the time and explain the full impact of the situation that Desi and Lucy find themselves in. We hold our breath with them as the week goes on awaiting the inevitable…

Though the film does tend to drag the story is so interesting this can be forgiven. Though not, as you might expect, a laugh-fest this is a serious attempt at showing what life must have been like for these two icons of US television. It was not at all pretty but it did have some nice bits.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-07-24

Directed by: Aaron Sorkin

Studio: Amazon Studios

Year: 2021

Length: 131 minutes

Genre: Melodrama