Like a lot of people, I’ve been very skittish about this new Lucille Ball movie starring Nicole Kidman. This first teaser for Being the Ricardos does a lot to allay those fears.
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7, TV’s West Wing), his strengths seem to be the material’s saving grace. Why? Because instead of being straight Oscar-bait, Being the Ricardos looks to lean into being an entertainment first, awards prospects be dammed.
Say what you will about Sorkin (and a lot usually is, good and bad), but the guy’s energetic rhythms and articulate command of language often combine to create something that grabs you. For as self-important as Sorkin’s material can be, it often innately (and intentionally) undercuts its own import, never allowing a ponderous tone to get in the way of how to tell a really good story (particularly a dysfunctional one, as this one appears to be).
In this first teaser, we barely catch glimpses of Kidman’s physical transformation into Ball, although we hear her narrate the entire thing. We’re shown more of Javier Bardem‘s Desi Arnaz, Ball’s husband and sitcom collaborator, who will be portrayed as a self-serving if talented egoist who sees himself as the sole creative Svengali behind the scenes (which also, in his mind, grants him typical patriarchal permission to philander and live by his own rules).
As the shot of the gossip column headline succinctly sums up, “Does Desi Really Love Lucy?” That looks to be the gist of Being the Ricardos, told from Lucy’s defiant, resilient perspective.
Also helping the biopic’s prospects: it will focus on a one week time period that covers the taping of an I Love Lucy episode. Within that structure, Sorkin and cast will explore the dynamic between Lucy and Desi. Flashback moments will likely be dropped in for broader context, but avoiding the decades-long span of time that is more common to biopics is a smart call by Sorkin.
Co-starring J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda as I Love Lucy co-stars William Frawley and Vivian Vance, plus Tony Hale, Clark Gregg, Jake Lacy and Linda Lavin, Being the Ricardos opens in select theaters on December 10, 2021 and streams on Amazon Prime beginning December 21.
Click on any image for larger gallery