BEING THE RECARDOS Movie Poster | ©2021 Amazon

BEING THE RECARDOS Movie Poster | ©2021 Amazon

Rating: R
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Release Date: December 10, 2021

BEING THE RICARDOS is about a very stressful week in the life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, played here respectively by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. Writer/director Aaron Sorkin also includes plentiful flashbacks and some flash-forwards to underscore points he wants to make.

Sorkin’s ambitions with BEING THE RICARDOS are admirable. He wants us to get to know Ball and Arnaz, as individuals, as a couple, and as artists. He wants us to also get to know the people around them who helped shape their extraordinarily successful 1951-1957 CBS comedy series I LOVE LUCY (which was followed by the 1957-1960 THE LUCY-DESI COMEDY HOUR). He wants to give us a sense of the ground broken by Ball and Arnaz, and the challenges they faced. He wants us to understand the times that shaped them.

All of these goals are addressed in BEING THE RICARDOS, with varying effectiveness. Containing all of those topics is a lot to ask of a two-hours-plus running time, especially when the issues don’t all dovetail neatly together and the style fluctuates somewhat.

In BEING THE RICARDOS, two newspaper articles and one fact of life all hit at the same time. Columnist Walter Winchell implies on his radio show that Ball is a Communist, while the House Un-American Activities Committee is in full swing, eagerly engaging in its anti-liberal crusade. This is later amplified in print. Meanwhile, a tabloid suggests that Ricardo is having extramarital affairs. Finally, Ball is pregnant while I LOVE LUCY is in production, at a time when pregnancy was neither shown nor mentioned on TV.

This last aspect is the most successful. Sorkin deploys wit and intelligence in his depiction of how Ball and Arnaz, singly and together, do battle with the network censors.

While not groundbreaking, Sorkin also paints a credible picture of the workings of a TV show: the power struggle between star, director and producer, squabbling writers, feuding actors, and so on. J. K. Simmons as cranky costar William Frawley and Nina Arianda as demoralized performer Vivian Vance are both standouts. Tony Hale also scores as I LOVE LUCY creator/producer Jess Oppenheimer, who resents being undervalued by Ball.

BEING THE RICARDOS also boasts gorgeous cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth, period-authentic production design by Jon Hutman and expert costume design by Susan Lyall.

There are a number of problems, though. One is a misstatement at the start, when a character tells us that, in the week covered by BEING THE RICARDOS, Lucy and Desi almost lost their lives. This primes us for a particular kind of event that never occurs. When it doesn’t, other dramatic developments fall a little short in comparison.

The film attempts to take on more topics than it has time to explore. Viewers who don’t know about the House Un-American Activities Committee are unlikely to learn much here. Those who do know are likely to wonder how Ball and Arnaz viewed the Committee’s attacks on so many of their peers in Hollywood. The closest we get is Arnaz denouncing the Communist insurgents who attacked his home – does he really equate a homicidal militia with blacklisted pacifist screenwriters?

The flashback romance between Ball and Arnaz in their pre-LUCY days, and the couple’s backstage marriage during the show, are both handled in the manner of a ‘50s drama. It’s retro without being enlightening, and doesn’t seem of a piece with some other parts of the movie.

Then there is the casting of the leads. While Bardem comes off as at once more solid and more dangerous than Arnaz did, the actor’s interpretation serves the material. Kidman, while made to look a lot like Ball, has a meditative, observant quality that doesn’t fully mesh with either our memories of the real person or with how other characters react to her. If this depiction of Ball is what the filmmakers intended, it isn’t quite at home in the surroundings created in BEING THE RICARDOS. It’s not that Kidman is doing anything wrong – she creates a coherent persona – but the rest of the movie is operating at a different speed.

BEING THE RICARDOS is never dull, and it’s swell to look at, but we come away with the impression that we’ve gotten curated clips rather than the full story.

Related: Movie Review: DEATH VALLEY
Related: Movie Review: ENCOUNTER
Related: Movie Review: THE ADVENT CALENDAR
Related: Movie Review: THE ADVENT CALENDAR
Related: Movie Review: AUTUMN ROAD
Related: Movie Review: GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
Related: Movie Review: HIDE AND SEEK
Related: Movie Review: UNITED STATES OF INSANITY
Related: Movie Review: BELFAST
Related: Movie Review: LAIR
Related: Movie Review:  SPENCER
Related: Movie Review:  MARIONETTE
Related: Movie Review:  A NIGHT AT EAGLE INN
Related: Movie Review:  ANTLERS
Related: Movie Review:  THE SPINE OF NIGHT
Related: Movie Review:  TIME NOW
Related: Movie Review:  BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION
Related: Movie Review:  V/H/S/94
Related: Movie Review:  NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK
Related: Movie Review:  THE OLD WAYS
Related: Movie Review:  MASS
Related: Movie Review:  THE FOREVER PURGE
Related: Movie Review:  DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Related: Movie Review:  SHELTER IN PLACE
Related: Movie Review:  BAD CANDY
Related: Movie Review:  MALIGNANT
Related: Movie Review:  THE LAST MATINEE (AL MORIR LA MATINEE)
Related: Movie Review:  CANDYMAN
Related: Movie Review:  BLOOD CONSCIOUS
Related: Movie Review:  THE EMPTY MAN
Related: Movie Review:  HOWLING VILLAGE (INUNAKI MURA)
Related: Movie Review:  THE SUICIDE SQUAD
Related: Movie Review:  THE GREEN KNIGHT
Related: Movie Review:  VICIOUS FUN
Related: Movie Review:  FEAR STREET PART THREE: 1666
Related: Movie Review:  FEAR STREET PART TWO: 1978
Related: Movie Review:  FEAR STREET PART ONE: 1994
Related
Movie Review:  WEREWOLVES WITHIN
Related: Movie Review:  THE EVIL NEXT DOOR (ANDRA SIDAN)
Related: Movie Review:  F9: THE FAST SAGA
Related: Movie Review:  IN THE HEIGHTS

Related: Movie Review:  THE VIGIL
Related: Movie Review:  QUEEN OF SPADES

Related: Movie Review:  THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT
Related: Movie Review:  CHANGING THE GAME
Related: Movie Review:  THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
Related: Movie Review:  ARMY OF THE DEAD
Related: Movie Review:  THE RETREAT
Related: Movie Review:  SÉANCE
Related: Movie Review:  SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW

Follow us on Twitter at ASSIGNMENT X
Like us on Facebook at ASSIGNMENT X

Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Movie Review: BEING THE RICARDOS

 

Related Posts:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

CAPTCHA Image
*

Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com
bottom round