Being the Ricardos
Being the Ricardos explores the rocky relationship between Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), stars of 50s sitcom I Love Lucy, over the course of an intense production week. With the media having recently unearthed Lucille’s connections to the Communist Party, the show’s production is rocked, and personal and professional relationships are strained to breaking point as the future of I Love Lucy and its crew is decided.
This is an ambitious piece, attempting to explore the complicated dynamics between Ball and Arnaz as well as a number of socio-political talking points, including racism, misogyny, the Red Scare and media censorship. However, these disparate elements are not integrated seamlessly into the piece and, while its dialogue is fairly solid and funny, Being The Ricardos occasionally bites off more than it can chew with its storytelling.
The screenplay also clashes with the direction throughout, making for an experience that feels lacking in real narrative focus, and with a runtime of around two hours, this lack of focus can get grating quickly. The structure can feel disjointed because of the dissonance between the writing and directing, and as a result the movie often feels as though it has something of an identity crisis.
Fortunately, Being the Ricardos occasionally falters with its scripting and directing, its cast is able to pick the production up and compensate for its deficiencies. Kidman and Bardem have fantastic chemistry as Lucille and Desi, conveying an engaging emotional range, from tender and sincere to snappy and confrontational, without missing a beat. Kidman is great as Lucille, effortlessly showing the distinction between Ball’s on-screen persona and the messy human behind the character. Bardem turns on the charm for his portrayal of Desi, but is also able to subtly communicate the vulnerability behind the suave façade.
Being The Ricardos can at times feel unfocused and meandering, and is perhaps a little too pleased with itself, but for more patient moviegoers there’s definitely an interesting story at its heart. It’s far from a perfect cinematic experience, but between the excellent performances across the board and the off-beat narrative structure, it’s still a compelling one.
Being the Ricardos is released on Amazon Prime Video on 10th December 2021.
Watch the trailer for Being the Ricardos here: