Battle of the Sexes (12a)
Dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to put the ‘show’ back into chauvinist…”
As the list of horribly abusive men in positions of power being outed seems to grow daily, The Battle of the Sexes takes us back to a time when the sexual revolution was only just gaining momentum.
"this time it's war"
Opening with a discussion about why the women professional tennis players were being offered eight times less prize money for the same competition by the Lawn Tennis Association and the formation of the rival Women’s Tour. The fight equality is embodied in is women's world champion Billie Jean King (Emma ‘La La Land’ Stone who is just excellent).
We get court-side seats and behind the scenes access to hang out with Billie and the women as they bust guts to raise the visibility and standing of the women’s game. Midway through the tour, in 1973, the ex-men's-champ, hustler and self-confessed ‘chauvinist pig’ Bobby Riggs (Steve ‘The Big Short’ Carell) challenged any woman to try and beat him, offering $100,000 if they could. So the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ took place on a tennis court in front of the world’s media and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world.
The cool directing team behind ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ bring the story of this sensational point proving match to the big screen in captivating style. The intense rivalry between King and Riggs is set against the backdrop of each of them battling off-court personal situations, his marriage on the rocks due to his gambling and the fiercely private King struggling to come to terms with the impact of her own sexuality.
King’s growing relationship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) is a heartfelt and touching core element of the film and stands to highlight the misogynistic attitudes of Riggs and the male-dominated sports world of the time. The leads are both superb but there is also great supporting work by Bill Pullman as the slimy LTA boss and Elisabeth Shue as Rigg’s conflicted wife.
The prejudices and gender discrimination were then more ingrained into the institution which is why this cultural spectacle resonated far beyond the tennis court. The resulting discussions about equality, not just in sport but across all areas of life, have to continue though as the ‘battle’ is far from over.
Fun, engaging, and thought-provoking, this Battle of the Sexes is a highly recommended cinematic experience.
"is he taking it seriously?"
Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - Some battles have to be fought...)
Awesomeness öööö – Heartfelt and exciting
Laughs öö – Some fun
Horror ö – Nothing too grim
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - All created equal...