#REVIEW: “BATTLE OF THE SEXES”
Battle of the Sexes couldn’t come at a timelier moment with pay equity and gender equality still very much at the forefront of discussion. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, written by Academy Award-winning Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and produced by among others, Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Danny Boyle, the Sports Drama is based around 1973’s high-profile tennis match pitting former World No. 1s Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone). It recreates the path each player took to the highly-touted match which on a grander scale was a significant moment in women’s liberation with doubts being cast by its male organizers about women’s place and worth in society.
The Film also looks at Billie Jean King‘s struggle with her identity, then married to husband Larry (Austin Stowell) and falling in love with hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough). The matter is handled delicately as we see the love triangle tested ultimately against the overarching storyline, Billie’s professional career and path to victory in perhaps the most important match in which she would compete.
While many of us know already the outcome of the match, Dayton and Faris do some phenomenal work helping us arrive at that point, diving into great detail on both Bobby and Billie‘s battles with their own personal demons, the former a gambling addiction and crumbling marriage to wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue) and Billie dealing with institutionalized gender discrimination and possible stigmatization in her own sexual awakening.
If you think you’ve seen Oscar-winning Stone at her best, she throws us a tour-de-force here that stands right alongside her work in La La Land, stepping-up to the physicality of her role convincingly. Carell plays up Bobby‘s overconfidence and chauvinism, having fun with it and amidst it all makes us feel for him, which is no easy feat.
The well-choreographed main event itself is nothing short of action-packed and gripping. You truly can come with little knowledge of the sport and still be enraptured by it all.
Supporting turns from Riseborough as Billie’s understanding and sometimes confused lover, Natalie Morales as fellow tennis player Rosie Casals and Sarah Silverman as Billie‘s greatest champion Gladys Heldman, also are wonderful, complementing a strong Ensemble.
Battle of the Sexes is a triumph and the Movie America needs to see right now. Fox Searchlight release Friday, September 22, 2017 in select cities.