Aaron Sorkin has written some of the best films over the last few decades. From A Few Good Men to The Social Network and Steve Jobs, Sorkin’s writing has mesmerized critics and audiences alike. His latest film, Being the Ricardos, is already receiving awards buzz and could be his next great film.
Being the Ricardos is a dramatized look at one week in the life of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), as they filmed the I Love Lucy show. This particular week was also significant from a political viewpoint, as Ball had just been accused of being a member of the Communist Party. Throughout the week in question, we see Ball’s many interactions with Arnaz, the writing and production staff of I Love Lucy, and her fellow cast members, as well as a look back at how she met her husband, and how the show got started.
It’s not uncommon for films based on real events to be overshadowed by the star power involved. Will Smith overshadows his role of Richard Williams in King Richard. This is not the case for Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos. Kidman flawlessly portrays Lucille Ball, to the point that you almost don’t realize it’s Kidman. The rest of the cast isn’t quite as seamless with their real-life counterparts, but it’s clear that everyone did their homework to grasp the nuances that make these characters tick.
If you’re not familiar with I Love Lucy, you may have trouble following along early in the film. Sorkin drops the audience right into the drama without taking the time to properly introduce these characters. However, in a film like this, it’s almost a welcome change.
Within 20 minutes you’ll be well-acquainted with the cast, understanding everyone’s role on the show, as well as the platonic and romantic relationships between cast members. By not spending extra time introducing each character, Sorkin is able to get straight to the point and avoid needless exposition.
Like The Social Network, Sorkin takes some liberties with the source material. This isn’t a documentary, although it is somewhat filmed in a documentary style. Sorkin’s changes add more drama and entertainment value to the proceedings and even casts an eerie similarity between the Communist scare in the 1950s and the political ignorance of the modern era. Adding sponsorship concerns with the likes of CBS executives Howard Wenke (Clark Gregg) and Joe Strickland (Nelson Franklin) deepens the drama and makes it more relatable, drawing comparisons to influencers in 2021.
By the end of Being the Ricardos, Sorkin manages to create an emotional connection between the audience and Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley (J.K. Simmons), and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda). You’ll even relate to the I Love Lucy producer, Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale), and writer, Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat). Sorkin has a way with words in which he easily allows a modern audience to relate to people and events from nearly 70 years in the past.
Being the Ricardos is a masterclass in writing and directing. You’ll get a bit more out of the film if you have a connection to I Love Lucy, but it’s far from a requirement. Even if you know nothing about the show, Sorkin’s writing makes all of the characters and the events of the film easily understandable and surprisingly relatable. The documentary style of showcasing some of the key players in more recent times is a bit unnecessary, but it’s a very small portion of the film. Amazon has yet another hit on its hands.
About Being the Ricardos
Synopsis: 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.
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat
Runtime: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes
Releases: December 10th, 2021 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.