Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Aaron Sorkin, the writer of The Social Network and The Trial of the Chicago 7, writes and directs Being the Ricardos, a biographical drama about Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), the couple starring in the 1950’s TV sitcom, I Love Lucy. The film follows the couple over one tumultuous week in the production of an I Love Lucy episode, where the two deal with issues in their romantic and professional relationship.

This is one of the most impressive films of 2021. Rarely do movies ever fully succeed at what they want to do, but this movie does an excellent job of recounting a week where Ball is in the center of public attention after the press states she is a Communist. In addition, this film perfectly shows what the culture was like in the 1950s as Ball and Arnaz attempted to get Ball’s real-life pregnancy written into the show when these subjects were taboo in American television.

Perhaps this is the standard with Sorkin, the incredible writer who has written many screenplays based on real people in recent years, including the excellent Steve Jobs. Since his directorial debut in Molly’s Game, he has proven himself to be a masterful filmmaking force, and his work continues with another incredibly well-written film. We get more of his signature rapid-fire dialogue where every word is remarkably engaging.

Sorkin has a talent for crafting tension between characters and creating scenes where they are at odds, and everything they say reveals so much about them as a result. He also makes a unique choice to condense the story into the five-day production of an episode, beginning from the table read and ending with the live taping. A lot of drama exists within these five days, and every bit of it is wonderfully performed.

Kidman’s performance is perfection. You can see the amount of work she put in to capture the spirit of Lucille Ball accurately. She not only nails Ball’s voice and mannerisms, but she does a fantastic job of portraying Lucy Ricardo, Ball’s fictional protagonist of I Love Lucy. Bardem is also phenomenal as Arnaz, capturing his energy during his “Babalu” and “Cuban Pete” performances. They have believable chemistry as a married couple, and the places their relationship goes are fascinating.

Being the Ricardos does an excellent job of paying tribute to the iconic sitcom the story is based around. We get glimpses of the writer’s room where the writers develop specific episodes and jokes that have become iconic. In addition, there are moments where the actors recreate scenes from I Love Lucy, and the scenes where Ball steps in to pitch her ideas about the blocking of physical comedy to make the jokes better are riveting.

As usual with Sorkin’s films, he does an excellent job of writing dedicated, intelligent characters with personal demons. He strives in this film, and while this is far from the best movie he has made — and the fake interviews in the film feel like an illegitimate way of adding legitimacy to a true story — so much of Being the Ricardos succeeds at telling an incredible tale about an iconic comedic mastermind.

SCORE: 9/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.

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