Out this week in cinemas is Battle of the Sexes, the true story of an inspirational event in history starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. The film is set in the 1970’s and centres around Billy Jean King (Stone) a world-class champion in the female division of tennis who decides that enough is enough when Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) announces a tournament where women players earn eight times less than their male counterparts. Billy Jean along with Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) and all the female tennis players of the time decide to boycott the tournament and start their own tournament with their own sponsor.
As the stakes rise and Billy Jean and the women of tennis rise in popularity and more importantly in the national consciousness a spanner is thrown in the works and its name is Bobby Riggs (Carrell) a one-time champion tennis player who decides that to feel alive again he must come up with a ridiculous match between himself and the number one female tennis player whoever it may be. As events unfold Billy Jean is drawn into a literal and figurative battle of the sexes and the repercussions of these events change the world.
Battle of the Sexes is a brilliant film from the acting, the story, and the timely nature of the subject matter. I couldn’t get enough of both Bobby Riggs (Carrell) and Billy Jean King (Stone) they are both driven and deeply flawed individuals neither one a villain or a hero just simply people. This is all down to the spectacular acting from Stone and Carrell, Stone portrays a woman out of time almost she’s forward-thinking vibrant and full of life not content with how the world is but focusing on how it could be. Bobby, on the other hand, comes across as a total fool, a man looking for a quick buck and so he is the villain of the piece right? Wrong Bobby is a man trying to figure out what he wants out of life and is looking for something that will make him feel like he is someone of consequence, whether through his gambling, his schemes or through the convoluted plan he concocts that sets into motion something world changing. Carrell and especially Stone could garner multiple awards come award season for their impressive performances.
As well as these stellar performances from not only our two leads but the whole cast really Battle of the Sexes is a thoroughly fascinating exploration of the dynamic between men and women, not just in the arena of sport but in life. It’s a dismal affair to see such issues only truly have started to change in the last 40 years even though this is not a new subject in history. It’s also fascinating to see that something as seemingly trivial as a tennis match could have such a rippling effect for so many generations. It’s terrifying to imagine what the world might be like if the match between Bobby and Billy Jean had gone another way, several noteworthy individuals in sports may never have come into the profession if it wasn’t for this match.
There are some storytelling issues that I wasn’t particularly onboard with towards the climax of the film, certain reasons why one competitor may have had an advantage over the other came across as hokey and overly emotional and though the match at the end of the film was fantastic it did seem to drag towards the end this however may be because I’m just not a fan of the sport.
Battle of the Sexes as I said earlier is a brilliant film and more importantly Battle of the Sexes is an important film because as the world is now people may need to be reminded about equality, fair play, and understanding.