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 groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy.
To say that Lucille Ball left a stamp in Hollywood would be an understatement. If you didn’t know, she will always be remembered as one of the most successful talents in the entertainment industry. Most known for her role as the main star in I Love Lucy, Ball has an illustrious career that spanned for decades. However, this Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) written/directed film is not a biography of the late actress. Rather, it focuses on one of the more hectic weeks that Ball had to face, shining even more light on the dramatic gloomier sides of her life that took place behind the scenes.
One of the best parts of the film is the casting. It may be safe to say there are several actresses that could have pulled this off, but Nicole Kidman did shine as bright as a star as Ball. It was difficult to tell the difference between both stars at times due to Kidman’s dedication to the role. In all, it was nothing short of fantastic! She wasn’t the only one that stood out though. All four leads from the television sitcom hit a homerun with their performances. Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz nailed the Cuban accent and culture (to my understanding). J.K. Simmons as Williams Frawley showed his range, and Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance not only performed well, but possibly gave a voice for women not often heard in the mainstream. Whether or not it was accurate or not I can’t say, but as a man, her character’s concerns had my full attention. Even though she was a real-life performer, not a character.
Everything starts out full of life, possessing so much energy in ways never depicted in the show before. The reason being is this was shot in color while the original show was in black and white. Whether on purpose or not this is a standout, giving you a new spin on things you didn’t see in the past. Sorkin’s way of pulling you into the story was brilliant in his reenactment scenes. The acting is already superb from the leads, then when you take their performances and edit the transfers from color to black and white so seamlessly it’s nothing short of remarkable. It really grabs you as if you were witnessing the real actors perform on screen giving you a special VIP pass to all the hidden gems not known before.
Even if you’re a diehard fan of Lucille Ball on and off stage knowing all the ins and outs of her life and career, I still believe there is much to learn about this great icon in this film. There was a deep level of pain and sadness mixed in with all the glam and spotlights that may not have been discovered before in any past workings of the great actress. This film also clearly shows that Ball was far more intelligent than the role of Lucy. She was a hardworking driven woman slightly obsessed with perfection and wanting to rehearse endlessly to get things just right. So much new information from a different perspective was provided. Everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows for not just Lucille but all the performers combined. It was also great to see all the inner workings of what it took to get the production rolling from start to finish. Also seeing how ignorant humanity was at the time, too afraid to say pregnant on television or afraid to address sex in any form on television. Things have definitely changed, and it’s amazing that this was only a number of decades ago.
It’s extremely interesting in hindsight about Hollywood. Today there’s an ongoing narrative that Hollywood is all fake and everything on the surface isn’t real. This film is a prime example of that but not just from the show “I Love Lucy,” but also from the peace of mind Lucille tried to convey through her role in the show. It probably goes without saying, but it’s deeper than that. It was heartbreaking to see why she even took on the role of Lucy and why it was so important to her. It’s titled “Being The Ricardos” and while the real show brought so much joy to the American people it brought so much pain to those involved in making it. It’s a fantastic heartfelt film, that most should enjoy possibly giving you even more closure about the actress and the whole production that you may not have had before but can appreciate.