Movie Reviews

Published on September 22nd, 2017 | by Angele Colageo

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Battle Of The Sexes

1972: Billie Jean King (played brilliantly by Emma Stone) just became the Grand Slam Champion of the Women’s Tennis Association. She had challenged the inequity of pay between the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Tour. Once she learns that the tournament for the Lawn Tennis Association is paying Women one eighth of the Men’s purse. She goes up against Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman at his misogynistic best). Billie, with her Manager, Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman in spectacular form echoing a more subdued version of Bobbie Fleckman) leave the LTA and start their own Women’s Tour. Which became the Virginia Slims tournament.

Around the same time, Bobby (Steve Carell, playing Riggs like a manic Pagliacci) the once Pro Slam Champion who now works in a nondescript office at  his father-in-law’s business. Bobby, the dreamer, is a gambler figuratively and literally. The man who’s inner child has taken the reins on the run. He is the clown who needs constant attention, and the showman who could sell the Golden Gate. Carell, gives an exceptional performance, riling us up with cringe-worthy moments and showing us the man that is so certain of his abilities that he forgets the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

We are brought into relationships that these two athletes have with their families and loved ones. Of what they went  through before the epic, world famous Battle of the Sexes in the Houston Astrodome. The film serves us a picture of the time where women had recently began the feminine movement and Women’s Liberation. The entire feel of the movie is set solidly in the seventies, the sexism rampant and accepted as the status quo. Misogyny is socially acceptable and Riggs and friends epitomize the attitude.

There is also the story of Billie Jean, realizing an attraction to a woman she meets before the starting her tour. Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough was magnetic), the hairdresser that was instantly drawn to Billie. We also get the treat of seeing the magnificent Alan Cumming as Ted, the charming designer of the women’s fantastic tennis outfits. Wallace Langham as Henry, the tailor.

The story is built up to the historic Battle of the Sexes at the Astrodome. We see the work that Billie does in preparation. Daily drills and practice games. Bobby’s confidence in his ability to deliver a win that mirrored the decimation of Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) who at the time was the top female tennis player in the world.

The directing duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) delivers us a well balanced, heartfelt film with a stellar cast. The soundtrack brings us into the early seventies and the costuming is quantum leap back to the time where polyester leisure suits and colorful shirts were the height of fashion. This is a love story of Billie Jean King and Tennis.

 

4 out of 5 Stars


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