First reactions to “Being the Ricardos,” Aaron Sorkin’s biopic of comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, are coming in following the movie’s first screening in Los Angeles. The idea of Sorkin, with his divisive trademark style, tackling the material and the casting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as the “I Love Lucy” stars left many skeptical that the film could pull it off. But based on the first reactions below, it appears the movie has entered the awards race, with audience members praising Kidman and Bardem for capturing the essence of the duo.
The film follows the real-life marriage of Ball and Arnaz, who starred as married Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on the CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy” for six seasons in the ’50s. J.K. Simmons stars as William Frawley, who played Lucy and Ricky’s landlord Fred Mertz on the show, and Nina Arianda is Vivian Vance, who played Lucy’s best friend Ethel Mertz. It also features “Arrested Development” costars Tony Hale and Alia Shawkat, as well as Clark Gregg, Linda Lavin, and Jake Lacy.
Sorkin directed from his own script; it marks his third directorial effort after “Molly’s Game” and the Oscar-nominated “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Sorkin’s trademark style of long monologues, fast-paced dialogue, and earnest wit (best captured in “The West Wing”) has made him as celebrated as he is divisive.
Those qualities, and Sorkin’s choice in casting, has made “Being the Ricardos” a subject of curiosity in the film community since the project was announced earlier this year. In a recent interview, Sorkin defended his picks: While Kidman may not be the spitting image of Ball, that was no barrier for the director.
“We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them that I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation of these people,” Sorkin told the Hollywood Reporter. “Leading up to the first rehearsal, I’d write to them every day, ‘Just play the characters who are in the script.’ I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that.”
Amazon Studios is set to give “Being the Ricardos” a limited theatrical release on December 10 before it streams on Prime Video beginning December 12. Check out a handful of first reactions to the film in the posts below.
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