Back in 2015, there were three Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs films in development, one starring Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, one with the comedic legend Will Ferrel taking on Riggs and the project that became this year’s Battle Of The Sexes. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris tell the struggle King had rising up to the misoginist Riggs, as well as dealing with her sexuality whilst competing and trying to maintain her marriage. The film perfectly encapulated the 1970s and is visually amazing, managing to re-create real life events with amazing accuracy, and gives the two leads the opportuntiy to show what they can do. In a packed year for award films, Battle Of The Sexes might be able to beat out the competition and score an ace with nominations.
Coming off her first Oscar win for La La Land, Emma Stone shows that she isn’t just a one-trick pony and is possibly one of the best actresses of her generation. This is the first role in which Stone has ever played a real life person, and from retro clips of the tennis heavyweight, she seems to have encapsulated her mannerisms perfectly. The actress had to train on playing tennis with wooden rackets, but she seems more than comfortable with the racket in her hand. Her chemistry with her lover, played by Andrea Risebrough, was believable and very genuine, particularly managing to capture the pressure King felt to not expose her true feelings. Stone is a powerhouse and is an actress I will see anything that she is in, she manages to fit in both comedic and dramatic roles, showing elements of both in this film.
Being a massive fan of The Office, I will also see anything that Steve Carell is in. I thought he was great in his more dramatic role in The Big Short and he continues the trend of mixing comedy and drama in Battle Of The Sexes. The character of Bobby Riggs could easily become tired and unwatchable, but Carell manages to make the character likeable despite the awful comments he had about women. I would have liked to have seen what happened to Riggs after his loss to King, his relationship with his wife and children could also be explored more. Another great performance from Carell who shows he is moving from his comedic slapstick background to more comedic roles. A fully-fledged film star now!
I think the best scenes of the film were those of the tennis matches, especially the two battle of the sexes matches. It was great to see the accuracy of the events, and how they used key elemets of the 70s like the sponsors of the athletes, the costumes and the press conferences helped to replicate the true events. Not knowing much about the events, I thought the film did well to expose the story to a new generation, a story that is long overdue and highly appropriate at the moment. It is amazing to find out how much Billie Jean King did for women’s tennis and women’s equality in general. The timing of the film might help it do well at this year’s Oscars, however, I worry Emma Stone may be overlooked in a packed category.
Although I enjoyed the vast majority of the film, there were elements that I found a little frustrating. Firstly, the pacing of the film was off, with the first act dragging and the third act feeling like it was a little rushed. The match was the main event of the film and this seemed to be thrown in to the last 20 minutes. I did like Alan Cumming’s character, I felt like his dialogue was a little cheesy, especially when speaking to King about her sexuality. I really like Sarah Silverman and thought she was strong in her first ocuple of scenes, but her character seemed to become a bit of a characature and goofy. Clearly the film had some problems that can probably be equated to Simon Beaufoy‘s screenplay. Surprising after his successes with Slumdog Millionaire and Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
With great acting and a great story, Battle Of The Sexes is definatly worth a watch. The themes of the story are so relevant in today’s age, it is important that we learn from previous events to help shape our society.
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