‘Battle of the Sexes’: An intriguing, lovingly made look at the strive for equality, empowerment and self-acceptance

Emma Stone as “Billie Jean King” and Steve Carell as “Bobby Riggs” in BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The biopic can be a dangerous genre. It is notoriously difficult to get right, and many often fall short of the mark; they regularly find themselves bogged down by dullness, and concern themselves far too much with boring details. ‘Battle of the Sexes’, however, never suffers from such issues. Instead, it presents itself as a thoughtful, warm snapshot into the life of Billie Jean King and a powerful depiction of the turmoil that she faced both on and off court. Set in 1973, and featuring a soundtrack that often captures the best of the era, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ focuses on the historic match between King (Emma Stone) and life-long hustler, and former men’s tennis champion, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). When we consider recent revelations surrounding pay disparity between men and women in some of the largest, richest industries in the world, the film could not have been released at a more appropriate time. It may be set in the seventies, steeped in an age of intolerance and conservativism, but it appears to fit perfectly into modern times, as male chauvinists continue to parade around, even in the White House. As Riggs, Carrell relishes the role and has fun as a showman; embittered by the lack of attention he receives in the media. He cavorts around the tennis courts in a series of ridiculous outfits, more than happy to play the role of the eccentric, self-proclaimed sexist. Carrell’s exaggerated Riggs serves as the perfect contrast to Stone’s measured, yet stubbornly defiant King. Both actors give wonderful performances here, and effortlessly bounce off one another in every scene they share; which makes the two hour runtime feel far shorter than expected, and allows us to fully enjoy the film’s exploration of both characters.

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