Being The Ricardos may dive into what it means to be Lucy and Ricky, but it doesn’t have the necessary onscreen magic to pop.
Aaron Sorkin is famous for his sharp and snappy dialogue, which shines when his material gets in the right directors hands, for example David Fincher’s masterpiece The Social Network. But as talented of a screenwriter Sorkin is, he still isn’t Fincher, which is why his newest biopic Being the Ricardos falls flat.
There was a big controversy with certain castings and also some things that the writer-director said in interviews, but I won’t dive deeper into that. I don’t know the show I Love Lucy very well, and I knew even less about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz before watching this film. That’s why I also can’t comment on how biographical the film really is. But I’d argue that isn’t important at all, as the focus lies more on the showcase of how good Sorkin is at writing dialogue rather than actually telling a layered story.
Being The Ricardos Lacks Depth
Amazon Prime Video presents Being The Ricardos, in which Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos in Academy Award®-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama Being the Ricardos. 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.”
The film does start with some of the real people, who are portrayed in the film, telling the audience where the story kicks off, in an setting, that could have been taken right out of a documentary. This caught me off-guard at first, but as they continued to pop up during the film, it made more and more sense especially with Sorkin’s writing style. As already mentioned the writing definitely is something that stands out: sharp, fast, snappy, but also unnatural at times.
This very much relies on the delivery by the actors, with some of them it works better and more natural and with others it just sounds unnatural, in a way that no one would talk like that. This is something that clearly stood out in one of the first scenes with J.K. Simmons. While his performance is pretty entertaining, it took some time until his line deliveries really clicked.
Another highlight is Nicole Kidman, whose performance definitely isn’t her career best, but pretty good nonetheless. With the make-up work she also sometimes doesn’t look like Kidman at all, which definitely helps her performance, in terms of that the audience really see the character and not Nicole Kidman doing a “funnier” voice. Javier Bardem is a scene stealer and they both have some solid chemistry together.
Sorkin’s directing still feels very shallow, even though there are some creative ideas. Throughout the film Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) often envisions how scenes could turn out and Sorkin shows that in black and white and there also are scenes, where it slowly changes over the spare of a few seconds. This does sound pretty unspectacular, but for this kind of biopic it is at least something a bit more visually compelling. Other than that, the film looks and sounds pretty shallow. Just what you expect: a generic biopic.
Being the Ricardos is a snappy two hour talking session, with some very solid performances, but uninspired from a filmmaking standpoint, which makes it ultimately pretty forgettable.
Being the Ricardos is in select theatres and on Amazon Prime Video December 21, 2021. It is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and stars: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Nina Arianda and J.K. Simmons.
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