Andrea’s film review – Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage. Out in the cinemas this Friday and on Amazon Prime on 21 December.

Anything new from the amazing mind of Aaron Sorkin (the genius behind classic Cult-TV The West Wing and Oscar winner screenwriter for The Social Network, just to mention two of the great things he’s done) is always a time for celebration as far as I’m concerned.

His unique style of fast-paced dialogue, his sharp wit and his ability to turn gripping and intelligent stories from potentially heavy subject matters such as politics and law, make him one of the most celebrated modern writers working in Hollywood.

This time he’s not just writing the screenplay, but directing too, as he takes us being the scenes of one of the most popular American TV shows from the 50s: I Love Lucy.

Back in the day this was huge, drawing as many as 60 million viewer per episode. Apparently 71% of all American television sets tuned in for the episode where Lucy gives birth and it made the two stars, Lucille Ball a Desi Arnaz, feel part of everyone’s family.

The film takes place during a fictional week of preparation and rehearsal of one of the episodes of the series, leading up to its filming.

A very eventful week in fact, in which Lucy is being accused by the media to be a communist, rumours and incriminating photographs surface and appear to expose Desi’s infidelity and a week in which the couple also decide not just to announce their pregnancy to the producers of the show, but also their intention to feature the pregnancy across a whole series of episodes.

This is a time when even mentioning the word “pregnant” on tv was considered too much. In reality all the events depicted in the film took places over months, but the condensed time gives some great dramatic drive to the film.

Sorkin is a master at telling this sort of story, whether it’s behind the scenes of a newsroom, a comedy show, a sport event, or even the White House, he’s clearly having a ball at portraying what’s going on in behind the desks of production offices, on the set while rehearsing and crucially in the writers’ room: some of the best scenes take place while lines of the script are being discussed.

While on the surface we might be watching an episode of a TV series being born, Sorkin’s smart writing and carefully calibrated direction add a whole series of subtexts and layers hovering between comedy and tense drama and make it all gripping and actually very entertaining.

A lot has been said about the choice of casting Nicole Kidman in the main role of Lucy and to a degree Spanish Javier Bardem in the role of Cuban Desi Arnaz. While a lot of the nasty and pointless criticisms were made before the film was even finished and shown to anyone, it is true that Nicole is a bit old to play the part (she’s currently 54, which makes her 13 years older than Lucy was back then), and also she doesn’t really look much like her.

But despite all that, if you can put that aside, as well as the honest and slightly sad truth that her face is beginning to look a bit too heavy with Botox – please Nicole stop, please! – there’s still no denying that we are in the hands of one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood. Her chemistry and friction with Bardem is what makes the film so compelling, but they’re also aided by a very strong supporting cast including JK Simmons, born to be a scene-stealer in anything he does, and Nina Arianda, playing  the two I Love Lucy regulars co-stars.

In among all that Sorkin uses some mocumentary-style (i.e. fake) talking-heads interviews, supposedly filmed recently, to comment on the events seeing in the film: not sure we really needed those, but they certainly help keeping the mood light and add a few extra laughs.

Overall I had a lot of fun with it and I would definitely recommend it.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Being the Ricardos is out in the cinemas this Friday and on Amazon Prime on 21 December.

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See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

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