Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz – the subject matter of Being The Ricardos – were superstars in the dawn of television, their 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy was watched by over 60 million people a week. Behind the scenes, however, things were rather rockier. Arnaz was a womanizer, Ball a would-be serious actress sidelined into physical comedy and accused of being a communist. Writer/director Aaron Sorkin compresses these events into a single week of recording an episode of the series, with middling results.
Nicole Kidman stars as Ball – the most famous, bankable star of the time, fighting against the studio and the patriarchy alike while making sure she is the star and nitpicking over moments of physical comedy. Javier Bardem oozes charm and charisma as the driven, apparently laidback Arnaz, happy banging bongos but with a core of steel. They create a believable duo, negotiating their marriage and their show as partners, but with Arnaz in Ball’s shadow.
The cast is rounded out by great performances from JK Simmons as curmudgeonly elder actor William Frawley, Tony Hale’s exasperated head writer and Alia Shawkat’s snarky female writer in a male-dominated room. It’s not a funny film – the screwball nature of Lucille is barely captured by Sorkin and Kidman, but Being The Ricardos has plenty of dramatic resonance with today: women fighting to be heard, societal pressures and norms, and the stupidity of the Anti-American Committee. It is these strands that work best, making being with the Ricardos less fun but worthy.
Dir: Aaron Sorkin (15) (127 mins)
Out now in cinemas; streaming soon on Amazon Prime
words KEIRON SELF
Events are Back!
If you’re running or promoting events in Wales, list them here for FREE.