I was really skeptical when I saw the trailer for Aaron Sorkin's BEING THE RICARDOS but after much trepidation and predisposed judgment, I succumbed to my curiosity and now I am dazzled like a child who has just won a stuffed animal from a claw machine.
OK first off, from what I've read, critics have lambasted Sorkin's writing and maybe it's his demeanor of consistently writing biopics or turbulent events throughout history with intelligent virtuosity. In fact, I've read some petty tantrums all across Twitter over certain vernacular from a specific piece of dialogue that Nicole Kidman says about “gaslighting". It seems irrelevant to the picture as a whole, but whatever. Everyone has mixed feelings. The subject matter touches iconic television personalities, who drove the television industry to an extreme success, opening to floodgates to advertising which oddly have a formidable position in dictating the course of a show especially when they’re the ones financing so much of it. But, I also feel most people are getting tripped over Lucille Ball versus Lucy Ricardo the fictional character on the show. So it makes sense why some aren’t convinced of her performance.The story gears it’s focus on the actual person behind the character and the mini fires she’s putting out throughout this one week of her life where all the shit hits the fan, metaphorically speaking, of course.
I feel like Aaron Sorkin’s focus was to take a specific time in history of the I LOVE LUCY show and build a film around its significance and he includes a variety of things happening to Lucille Ball at the time. We're examining several faucets from a political, corporate, entertainment, and cultural standpoint. It's during the McCarthy era where being accused of being a communist has entered the zeitgeist. There's a corporate constituent upholding standards over the masses, who have a reputation to protect while extenuating the TV ratings which creates massive amounts of pressure for the actors and creators of the show. There's a marital drama unfolding between Lucy and Desi. Lucy is pregnant. Lucy is also creatively fighting the direction of her character, the show, while advocating that the audience is not dumb. She's trying to keep her marriage together and all of these hurdles and obstacles is what keeps the story moving forward. It's a drama, plain and simple with great dialogue. For people who don't like wordy dialogue don't watch the film. If you're turned off by Nicole Kidman, and Javier Bardem portraying Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz because of their looks, then you're overlooking something that's quite magical. You're undermining the battles they collectively fought together when it came to their careers, both were geniuses in the business and creatively competent. They knew their shit as any professional would and it’s what made them an unstoppable freight train. They stood up to executive producers and studio heads and corporate warlords with common sense. Yeah their marriage was on the rocks and was stretched thinly, but given how hard they worked how could it not have been? But to be lucky to go to work with your husband and portray a happy marriage as a sitcom among millions of people and before a live studio audience while everything is not OK in your personal lives, takes a different breed of person. A strong willed person. Lucille Ball was head strong, while probably emotionally falling apart, but she found a way to keep it together. She was one hell of a pioneer. Respect.
There's a very poignant scene that speaks to the heart of the movie and overall, I believe it's really about Lucy's story and how she was dealing with so many things at once. The scene where she phones up William Frawely (J.K. Simmons) and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) at 2am and tells them to meet her at the studio so they can rehearse the dinner scene for the upcoming episode. They both look at her like she's nuts, and William in a comforting tone asks point blank, "What's really going on here?". This is where Lucy snaps out of her work mode and settles into her vulnerability to speak her truth. The full reason why she’s doing the show is revealed. It really made me pause and think how much she truly loved her husband despite his wandering eye which would make any woman lash out and fight. She’s hurt. Deeply hurt all while still wanting to build a home and life with him as he builds his career. Hence, the I LOVE LUCY show inadvertently became a huge success while crushingly tragic beneath the thin veneer of show business. There’s a narrow line between being the thing you are and projecting the thing you desperately want to manifest into truth, perhaps why the acting became nearly effortless on a 1950’s television set.
So… slow clap. Hells bells. I am so many emotions after viewing this, between feeling dumbfounded and inspired. Everyone knows the I LOVE LUCY show and peeking behind the curtain to see the underbelly of a strong-willed, determinedly persistent, incredibly talented, witty broad to grace the presence of the television industry with razor sharp candor and comedic sensibility then you will enjoy Aaron Sorkin’s BEING THE RICARDOS. I know Aaron Sorkin is a brilliant writer but to take a precise moment in history and turn it into a cinematic explosion with Desi Arnas and Lucille Ball is a mesmerizing achievement. Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman are triumphant, their chemistry performance is exhilaratingly pure not because they’re playing iconic figures in Hollywood history but because they found the heart of each of their characters’ story while breaking barriers making them nearly irritatingly masters of their work.
If you're interested in watching BEING THE RICARDOS you can catch on Amazon Prime. Check it out! Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!