Sundance Film Festival: ‘Lucy and Desi’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What can be said about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that hasn’t already been said? Well, Amy Poehler brings the two of them together again in this beautiful, heartfelt documentary Lucy and Desi. What was so perfect about this documentary was the genuine care and love that went into retelling their story through archival footage, home videos, interviews, and clips from the beloved sitcom, I Love Lucy. Amy Poehler truly did both of them justice with this documentary because she understood their work ethic, love, admiration for the industry. It came from such a pure place and it translated with the structure of the documentary.

Poehler really gave us their full story with all the ups and downs done in such a tasteful manner. She even had on-screen interviews with their children, Desi Arnaz Jr., and Lucy Arnaz. Poehler also had comedy icons, Norman Lear, Bette Midler, and Carol Burnett speak about Lucy and Desi. That one-day in 1940, when two budding stars met for the first time in the RKO Pictures commissary, they were unaware that together they would change the face of pop culture. Lucy and Desi made I Love Lucy the blueprint for all sitcoms that came after it. Without them, there wouldn’t have been the surge in television that would give us many other shows, courtesy of DesiLu Productions.

The most beautiful aspect about Lucy and Desi is how they showed the impact Lucille Ball made as a woman on television and how much of an impact Desi Arnaz made as a Cuban man on and off-camera. People don’t realize the empire the two of them built while working on a show that stole the hearts of so many people. It was just really beautiful to see Lucille Ball understanding her role as a trailblazer in the industry late in her career and used her platform to empower other women coming up in the industry. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have known Carol Burnett or even Joan Rivers. She worked with them and just wanted to share the joy that comedy brings to so many. If it weren’t for Desi Arnaz and his good eye for great writing and unique story angle, we wouldn’t have gotten Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek, or, The Dick van Dyke Show.

Lucy and Desi is just such a beautiful documentary that shows Lucy and Desi as the power couple they were back in the day. Even through their divorce, they still worked together because they loved each other and how well they worked together. Even though Desi Arnaz took a backseat near the end of his career, he was still working with Lucille Ball. They had a connection from the very start and sometimes life just doesn’t work out as you thought it would. There was always a genuine love for the industry that was shared between them and sometimes that’s strong enough to hold a lifelong friendship together. Poehler made sure that you could feel the weight of their career and how much they meant to the world.

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