The true life story of Billie Jean King, on her way to trying to even the playing field with the male players, and get the same cash, inspired over the hill male champion Bobby Riggs to step back onto the court to prove that men are superior to women. During this time Billie and Bobby learn more about themselves off the court than they ever can on the court.
This year there have been two great tennis movies, this and the film Borg McEnroe. Borg McEnroe was a thundering experience with two exceptional performances from the main performers. The same is true here. But the difference between the two films is that for me the Tennis in Borg McEnroe felt like real tennis being played. The tennis on-screen in Battle of the Sexes felt as though there was little effort being put into the game, I’m sure that it’s not the case, but this feeling that wouldn’t go away during my watching of the film is the loss of what should have been a five out of five.
Thankfully that is all I found wrong with this film. The performances from everyone are at the top of their individual games. Emma Stone looks set for another Grand Slam at the Awards seasons that about to jump up and down on our heads over the next few months. The uncanny resemblance to Ms. King is one thing, I mean I could look like Meatloaf given the right amount of make up and booze, but the natural talent that Stone has lifts this up to a different level. Carell as the Joker, and unashamed gambler, is perfectly cast in this role. He’s a funny man with the right material and here he has the best material he’s had in years. Riggs is a showman, he knows how to manipulate his opponents in everything to get to most out of himself.
The main story off the court is the sexual awakening of King to her true lesbian self, this is where the true drama lies in the film, as King was happily married to her husband at the time. As she brings all the female players off the normal tour and into their own tournament across the country they are living out of suitcases in hotel rooms.
The message here is that we’re all equal and to be true to yourself. Both sides of the match have to learn that lesson, it’s only when they are both being themselves that they become truly happy. For Riggs it’s being back in the limelight, to be the showman, he doesn’t really believe the sexist message that he’s using to draw the top female players to play him, he knows that using their anger at his comments is how he’ll get them onto the court and also to win.
For those of you that love Tennis this is an essential historical movie, for those who want to see a damn fine film, and those who want to see how long the struggle for equal pay for equal work has been going on, and still going on, then this is your movie. Carell and Stone have a great chemistry together and although their on-screen time together is limited its aligned and that is a huge bonus. I would pay back in to see this again, it works as a comedy drama, historical sports movie, and very fine entertainment. Would make a great date night movie too, important messages, great performances, and a fine story, what more can you ask of a film?
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Stars: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough & more… See full cast & crew