Aaron Sorkin has returned with his newest film that he both wrote and directed, this time the story of the week where Lucille Ball’s possible Communist ties were published and the doubt of the future of her career and the show, I Love Lucy, created a stressful and difficult workplace.
The film started in the style of a documentary, with several older version of people who were there with Lucy and Desi, talking to the camera about the events of that week. The film also used flashbacks to give us a flavor of how Lucy (Nicole Kidman) and Desi (Javier Bardem) met, fell in love and became one of the power couples in Hollywood during the 1950s.
Much like celebrities today, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were interesting personalities that people wanted to know more about and, at the same time as the Communist story was being threatened to drop, a story speculating about Desi cheating on Lucy came out, adding to the stress and anxiety of the week.
The film showed us a behind the scenes look at I Love Lucy and how it was created. It showed us the powerhouse, the tornado Lucille Ball could be in search of the perfect comedic bit. The film went out of its way to show how Lucy could focus on the small details in order to make a scene perfect and how some of the crew may have taken it.
JK Simmons and Nina Arianda played William Frawley and Vivian Vance, respectively, who were the actors behind Lucy and Ricky’s next door neighbors and best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz. JK Simmons was awesome as William and seemed to embody “Fred” beautifully. We also got to see how much he cared for Lucy and how much he had a tempestuous relationship with Vivian Vance.
As with all of Sorken’s scripts, the dialogue is sparkling and a wonder to listen to. While his direction may not reach the level of his writing, the film does a great job of showing us who these people were, despite the fact that we know all about them.
Nicole Kidman is exceptional as Lucille Ball. She brings a ferocity to the character that you may not have known existed. Javier Bardem may not look much like Desi Arnaz, but he brought a definite energy to the Cuban bandleader and gave him his own strength outside of his famous wife. The lead performances , as well as the rousing dialogue, prevents this from turning into a Lifetime movie.
Placing the film during this time is a good choice and the life of Lucy and Desi is filled with drama and comedy. I loved the way this was presented, smart and witty.