Alex Reviews "Lucy and Desi"
Lucy and Desi follows the entwined lives of one of Hollywood’s most groundbreaking couples from their early lives, their 20-year marriage, and ultimately final days. Being unfamiliar with the personal side of their story, I found the documentary both incredibly informative and an overwhelmingly positive story which flows very naturally from topic to topic with next-to-no-apparent guidance. In my experience, this is almost unheard of in a documentary and speaks to the care that director Amy Poehler and her team have put into making a seamless journey with the use of archive footage, personal cassette tapes, infrequent interview pieces, and home movies.
A large amount of credit for the film will undoubtedly go to Mark Monroe for the story’s flow to not only drive the picture but also to utilize voice recordings that act as the narrator throughout. This allows the subjects to act as the voice of a documentary has been done before, but I cannot think of another time it was done this well (especially since both passed well over thirty years ago).
The only detractor I could see to full enjoyment here was how there was not a lot of balance between the joys and hardships Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz faced. It does address a few of the biggest hurdles they faced, but it seemed fleeting in that category as if the battles were too easy for them to overcome. At times, Lucy and Desi comes across a bit like a fluff piece of positivity, but maybe that is the point. With so much of the negativity readily available and constantly covered, this may be the feel-good documentary people need to remember the good in cinema, in television, and in humans.
It would have been simple for this to be broken down just by the hardships and/or the ways the couple pioneered entertainment changes, but never diving too deep into either the highs or lows gives the relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz centerstage. It did make me wish there was an impending miniseries lead by Poehler and Monroe to gives us their take on the risk of being the first interracial couple on television, the creation of the three-camera sitcom, inventing reruns, and more. As P.T. Barnum once said, “Always leave them wanting more,” and I definitely do want more of this story.