Nicole Kidman was nominated for an Oscar. Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar. J.K.Simmons was nominated for an Oscar. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? All these acting nominations at the most prestigious of the film awards ceremonies. Yet, I don’t think it is too harsh to say that this Aaron Sorkin written and directed film was a disappointment. A disappointment due to the fact that Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7, Molly’s Game) is the man behind the camera and he had talents like Kidman, Bardem and Simmons in front of the camera. No way up to the standards set by Lucille Ball herself.
The film follows the famous comedic redhead Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman – Moulin Rouge!, Cold Mountain) from the time when she was just on a low-level contract at the studio to the point where she is the world’s biggest comedic star, married to Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men, Skyfall) and hitting a rough point personally and professionally. It is crisis management time.
On the plus side, as someone who is quite familiar with Lucille and Desi’s work and aware of what a big star she was I was looking forward to watching a film that would shine a light on a lesser-known aspect of their careers and marriage. Especially when the telling of that part of their tale was in the hands of such a great screenwriter and competent director as Sorkin. Somehow it falls just south of working out.
The willingness to show Lucy as she was – smart, funny, incredibly talented, and stubborn – should be applauded. They did not dumb her down or make her meek and mild. Lucy is shown to be a woman who knew what it took to become and remain a superstar. Then there is Desi Arnaz. He was not just a singer and her husband, but a man who acted as her manager. Negotiating her contracts and making sure she got what she needed to make her television series. True partners. Yet the waters were not always smooth.
This aspect of their relationship and careers is fleshed out here and it sounds really interesting. A behind-the-scenes look at the life of a big star is always something the public craves. Somehow, though, it does not exactly work. Instead, it just falls flat. Is rather boring, which is not something you would usually say about an Aaron Sorkin film. It does not build any real tension, which should be there, nor does it any emotion to cling to. All you come out with of the watching of Being the Ricardos is indifference.