Presenting a story far richer than a simple biopic, “Being the Ricardos” once again unleashes screenwriter / director Aaron Sorkin in the midst of television and produces one of the most satisfying films of the year. That it was made for a streaming service, Amazon, is a wrinkle that even the legendary far-sighted Desi Arnaz surely couldn’t have imagined. In an ingenious framing device, Sorkin builds the narrative around a “terrifying week” in the lives of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her husband / co-star Arnaz (Javier Bardem), filtered through the memories of those who worked on her highest-rated sitcom, “I Love Lucy.
The film then uses that confined window to revisit the couple’s courtship and how they conquered television through a series of cleverly constructed flashbacks.The duo’s crises arise on two fronts: an anonymous article by radio star Walter Winchell hinting that Ball is a communist (there is an explanation, but not one that can satisfy nervous critics or network executives); and tabloid photos of Arnaz with another woman, fueling Lucy’s suspicions, despite her denials, about the infidelity that would eventually tear them apart.Those elements really define the movie, far more than the cast and the absurd and invisible doubts it unleashed.
As for that, Kidman may not look particularly like Lucy, but it completely captures her creative genius and overbearing demeanor when dealing with writers – Executive producer Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale) absorbs the brunt of the abuse and its show-first attitude. even if it meant relegating co-star Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) to scruffy dresses she hated.When they meet, Desi instantly recognizes her talent, calling her “kinetically gifted,” abilities that would later be harnessed in the show’s broad antics. As for her cold-blooded demeanor from hers and the recognition of the influence the couple wielded at the time.
The underlying presumption behind “Being the Ricardos” is that, despite its success, Ball and Arnaz’s future faced real danger during that week, creating a tension between the staff and the cast that brought out the best and worst in everybody. That includes a spectacularly fun supporting twist from J.K. Simmons as his co-star William Frawley, who references his vaudeville career and boasts of heavy drinking without getting drunk.By counting Lucy and Desi’s children among its producers, “Being the Ricardos” treats both of them kindly but does not whitewash the relationship or the characters, including the fact that Lucy went into television.