Movie Review: Being the Ricardos (2021)

Now on Prime Video.

Stomp the grapes and sneak a conveyor belt bonbon, because a dishy drama about the making of “I Love Lucy” is destined to cast nostalgia in a whole new light. Aaron Sorkin’s backstage drama Being the Ricardos (B+) plumbs what life is like for performers when there’s not a live studio audience providing a laugh track of affirmation. Wielding his signature rapier wit scalpel to slice into sitcom life, the writer/director assembles a crackerjack cast to act out a week in the life of the real-life stars of TV’s “Lucy” with the amped-up quadruple pressures of a potential affair, pregnancy, Communist accusation and of course putting on a show. Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz are unexpectedly magnificent in their respective real-life comedy couple roles, as are J.K. Simmons as William Frawley and Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance (the latter two character actors behind the fictional “Fred” and “Ethel”). Sorkin plays his own cracking words like a maestro with characters savoring sumptuous script solos and dialogue duets which crescendo at just the right moments in the drama. Kidman shines brightest of all, showcasing the obsessions and vulnerability of an actress once discarded who gets a second chance at getting it all right, and it’s all her “Lucy” can do to keep everything afloat. Her character is a steely hero and Kidman’s work fully convincing. The film pulses most in comic and cynical asides, in its jaunty jabs at the entertainment business and its eternal truths about the qualities in loved ones capable of love and distrust in equal dollops. 

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