Kidman Is 'Sensational' in Being the Ricardos

But some critics say biopic feels overstuffed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2021 3:17 PM CST

Critics are split on Being the Ricardos: Some say the biopic, which tells the story of I Love Lucy through one hectic week of production in 1952, is a triumph, while others say writer and director Aaron Sorkin has tried to pack far too much into two hours. But most agree that Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem have done a superb job playing Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—especially since neither star is known for comedy. The film is now in theaters and will be on Amazon Prime Dec. 21. Four takes:

  • Kidman is "sensational." People who complained about the casting of Kidman should admit they were wrong, writes Johnny Oleksinski at the New York Post, who calls her performance "sensational." Kidman "nails the off-camera Lucy in her prime: the acidic tongue, her dream of a normal suburban home life, disdain for mediocrity, and especially the unparalleled power she wielded as a woman in showbiz in the 1950s," he writes.

  • Overstuffed. Robert Abele at the Wrap says Sorkin "has some splainin' to do." "As if confused between what makes a movie and what should be a season’s worth of storylines, Sorkin takes the timeline of a production week in the second season of the show and starts stuffing exposition and workplace conflict into it as if he thought foie gras would be the result," Abele writes. The result, he says, despite "valiant turns" from Kidman and Bardem, is far from the "cohesive, engaging portrait" of Ball and Arnaz that he had hoped for.
  • "Thrillingly stylized compression." Owen Gleiberman at Variety argues that in a "heady helping of Sorkinese," the director has done an excellent job squeezing multiple events from a longer period—including the announcement of Ball's pregnancy and the revelation that she registered to vote as a Communist in 1936—into a single week. "The entire movie is a piece of thrillingly stylized compression. It gets a real head of steam going, a hurtling energy and anxiety that rides on everything Lucy is feeling," he writes.
  • "One of the year's most satisfying movies." Brian Lowry at CNN praises Sorkin's storytelling, which includes flashbacks as well as the "framing device" of a week of filming. He says Being the Ricardos is "one of the year's most satisfying movies. "Whether you've watched I Love Lucy or not, you're likely to come away with a "greater appreciation for the central couple's talents as well as their personal failings and foibles," he writes.
(Read more movie review stories.)

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