Kept afloat by great performances and well-written dialogue, Being the Ricardos unfortunately falls short of Sorkin's previous directorial credits, as it ambles along and fails to keep its audience captivated.
Written by Becca Johnson
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, Being the Ricardos tells the biographical story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as they face a crisis that could end their careers, and another that could end their marriage.
Nicole Kidman's (Paddington) portrayal of Lucille Ball is phenomenal. She captures every emotion perfectly, with Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) being the perfect match for talent. The pair worked flawlessly together and had believable chemistry, easily becoming the highlight of the movie. Both characters were complex individuals, particularly Lucille, and the performances came together harmoniously with the script to prove that. All sides performances were admirable too, particularly from Nina Arianda (Richard Jewell) and Alia Shawkat (Green Room). The movie focuses on the character interactions more so than the creation of popular show I Love Lucy, which allows the actors to shine.
Sorkin is widely renowned for his writing, having experienced previous success with The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011) and The Newsroom (2012-14) amongst many more. Luckily, one of Being the Ricardos best features is its dialogue. The most captivating scenes were those that featured back and forth between characters, particularly between Lucille and Desi, Sorkin once again proving that snappy and slick dialogue is his forte. On the flip-side, the story itself was clunky at times. It ambled along at a slow pace, not leaving its comfort zone, unfortunately feeling formulaic and tiresome by the time it comes to a close. This has a knock on effect on the run-time, which feels much longer than its ample 130 minutes. It also sadly means that its not as emotional as Sorkin hoped it would be, the script often feeling detached.
Set in 1952, the time period allows for some gorgeous set design and costuming. The I Love Lucy sets were a joy to look at, and Kidman rocked some stunning outfits throughout the entire run-time. However, the cinematography itself is visually bland, and is paired with a score that is beautiful at the time yet not the least bit memorable. It's elements such as these that make a movie feel concise and cohesive, which are traits that Being the Ricardos unfortunately lack.
Equal parts character study and love letter to I Love Lucy, fans of the show will without a doubt be satisfied. The performances make it worth the watch, with Sorkin's snappy dialogue providing much to admire, alongside its deep character study. However, Sorkin tends to get in his own way, his directing not quite on par with his writing. The story lags, it feels repetitive and the visuals fail to suck you in and keep you engaged. Some tighter editing and better storytelling would've elevated Being the Ricardos to higher heights, though its definitely worth the watch as it is.