April 14, 2024

BEING THE RICHARDOS (2021) – A snapshot of Lucille Ball without the laughs


Rating: ⭐⭐

It’s awards season coming up soon and that usually means an onslaught of movies hopeful of getting nominations for the various categories in the major awards like the Golden Globe or the Oscars. Being the Richardos is one such movie riding off the talents of its two Academy Award winning leads, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. In fact Nicole Kidman is already receiving rave reviews and support for scoring in the Best Actress category here for her portrayal of the enigmatic and boisterous Lucille Ball.

After having watched this, I have to admit that I did not come out of it feeling as enthusiastic. For one thing, Nicole Kidman does not look like Lucille Ball and her characterisation here is a bit confusing with her mood swings and over acting. Javier Bardem comes across much more effectively and believable as Desi Arnaz. No over acting here, just a decent performance that makes him come across more sympathetic than Lucille Ball. Possibly the opposite of what the film makers here had wanted to project! Besides, he not only gets to act here but does a great job with some mambo moves and singing. He at least provides a good reason to watch this movie.

Rather than being an epic biography of the life of Lucille Ball, director / writer Aaron Sorkin chose to tell the story of the Richardos by focusing on just a short period of their life. In this case, the week they were bombarded by two scandals, the accusation of Lucille Ball as being a Communist and a scandal reported in a gossip tabloid on Desi Arnaz’s extra marital affair. This is not necessarily a bad thing and can often provide the opportunity for the film makers to exercise their creative talents in being able to give us an insight to the personalities of the real life celebrities despite the constraint of the scope of material. Unfortunately Being the Richardos here feels underwhelming in the way it handled the week’s drama. For a movie that tells the story of one of TV’s most popular comedy acts, this film is surprisingly humourless. It tries to lend an air of authenticity by inserting segments that seemingly interview some close associates of the “I Love Lucy” TV show in the present day. These could have felt more relevant had they actually been the real people themselves but by having actors playing the part here, it simply makes these scenes feel out of place. Being the Richardos is not a documentary so why have these few scenes make it look like one when the rest of the show isn’t?

Finally, the ending offered little enlightenment to what happened to the lives of Lucille and Desi by flashing just one short sentence to what was a foregone conclusion. This feels like a disservice to the viewers after what felt like a snippet on the lives of two huge celebrities. It’s akin to being handed a candy bar but only to have it taken away from us before we could finish it. A more satisfactory closure would have been to provide us with a bit more comprehensive insight to what happened to Lucille and Desi after this tremorous week.

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