Battle of the Sexes
Starring: Emma Stone, Elisabeth Shue, Jessica McNamee, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming
Battle of the Sexes is a time capsule in a movie.
You can almost smell the Old Spice and burning bras as the clock is turned back to 1972-’73 – a time when men were men and women were sick of it!
For those who lived through it, it’s a trip back in time – for those who didn’t it was like a head-spinning trip into the “Oh wow, was it really like that Mum?”
Battle of the Sexes is the story of the 1972 tennis match between women’s champion Billie Jean King and former men’s champion Bobby Riggs. But really it’s a fight between the top female players and the establishment (personified by Bill Pullman as Jack Krammer, the head of lawn tennis in the US).
And so while it might seem like just a tennis match now (and frankly a bit of a circus) back then it was an important part of the battle for women’s sport to be recognised, legitimised even.
It’s also a story of two people living a lie. In the case of Riggs (Steve Carell) – he is a much-lauded champion of the game, but in reality, he is now a problem gambler and hustler – born before there was any money in the sport, a bored kept woman.
Carell walks a fine-line as a larger than life character in a performance that could easily have turned into a remake of Austen Powers. And yet Carell manages to make him feel real and lost and allow us to care.
Emma Stone is also at her best in this, showing us a young woman who just wants to play tennis and be herself but has to battle to do both. Her love affair with hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough) is shown sympathetically and sensitively.
Although a little slow in places, ultimately Battle of the Sexes is a feel-good mainstream movie with lots of relevance to what is happening around us today and lots of reminders of how far we have actually come.
– Tania Phillips