“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” – Lucille Ball
I’m starting to think I might be late to the Aaron Sorkin appreciation party. While I’ve been a fan for a long time I’ve still possessed doubt from time to time with each of his new projects. Not doubting his abilities as a writer of course but whether or not I was going to enjoy whatever he had come up with next. A film about the beginning of Facebook? Absolutely riveting. Another movie about Steve Jobs? It ended up being a brilliant piece of cinema reminiscent of a stage play where the main draw is the dialogue and the conviction behind those words. And now a biopic about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz? I think you see where I’m going with this.
Yes this is another example of his ability to create truly captivating storytelling. Reminiscent of his take on Steve Jobs, Being the Ricardos is a contained story that focuses on a particular time in the life of the subject rather than a general outlook of their entire lives. It is merely a window, a glimpse into the lives and minds of two people the world thought they knew everything about. You’ve heard whispers of her tenacity and his determination but to see it all carried out, even in a dramatized fashion, is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Stating the obvious, no amount of top-tier writing can make up for lackluster acting. Luckily he hasn’t run into this issue yet. The doubts (the unfounded critique of a performance no one had even witnessed yet) of Nicole Kidman’s abilities as an actress are completely put to rest with her award worthy performance as the legendary Lucille Ball. Perhaps at first you may see Kidman on screen but I assure you before long she disappears as Lucy comes to life once more. Kidman’s performance is transcendent. She is a living example of exemplary skill, grace and courage as she faces a role of someone beloved by so many. This is a high pressure role and she overcomes every obstacle imaginable elevating the writing to a god-tier level.
At her side is the always brilliant Javier Bardem as the formidable but engaging Desi Arnaz. As he carries his lines to Kidman they create a whirlwind of ferocity at one moment only to be as gentle as doves to one another all in a single scene. Together they convincingly portray a marriage that is equally in turmoil and harmony navigating a moment of their life that was as far from stable as humanly possible. Each on their own is a force but together Kidman and Bardem are a duo not soon to be forgotten.
Being the Ricardos is a week-long look into the lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as they face the possibility of not only their careers dying in a fire but their marriage as well. At times they feel divided but always realize their strength as a united front. In a time when women were the secretaries and the men were in charge, Lucille Ball took this antiquated notion and flipped it on its head.
Her brazenness and fearlessness was only emboldened by her on tv and real life husband Desi. They backed one another at all times, even when that loyalty threatened their professional lives which it often did. The juxtaposition of a lovely relationship with silly high jinks on I Love Lucy and the behind the scenes moments of their lives is fascinating to watch. In a scene as serious as life and death they can be having a conversation about whether or not Lucy would hear Ricky when he walks in the front door. It transcends from a silly moment between two tv characters to a commentary on women’s desire to not be seen as naïve or inept. Lucille Ball takes it on as a quest to make sure her character is silly but never stupid. It was a demand Ball was adamant about her entire career.
In a single day I saw two films, one I was excited for and this one. This film is a great example of giving things a chance. By the end of that day I wasn’t overly thrilled by the movie I had been looking forward to and was already placing Being the Ricardos in my top ten of 2021. To say I was pleasantly surprised by this film is an understatement. I love this movie. I love the performances and the writing that made it all possible. Please don’t let this one go by. It deserves any and all attention it can possibly receive. Being the Ricardos is one of the best films of 2021.
Rated R For: language
Runtime: 125 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Drama
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda
Directed By: Aaron Sorkin
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 10/ Acting: 10/ Directing: 10/ Visuals: 10
OVERALL: 10 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. Streaming on Amazon Prime, December 21, 2021.
Check out the trailer below:
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