Film review: Battle Of The Sexes (2017)


Originally published on F*** Magazine 

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Andrea Riseborough
Genre: Biography/Drama/Sports
Run Time: 1h 55m
Opens: 23 November 2017
Rating: M18 (Some Mature Content)

My personal rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More than just a biopic of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the tennis players who played at one of the world’s most televised tennis matches of all time, Battle Of The Sexes explores the lives of professional tennis players on and outside the court. The sexual revolution theme stands out the most, but as Emma Stone explains in several interviews, the film is also about finding our most authentic selves, fighting for what we believe in, and practising humility in everything we do.

Battle Of The Sexes might centre on tennis players, but directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris understand not all moviegoers are sports fans – the tennis matches are left to the end and not longer than necessary. Long story short, you don’t have to be a sports fan to love the film because of the brilliant storytelling by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and stellar performances.

Stone and Steve Carell are nothing short of amazing with their interpretations, portrayals and performances of King and Riggs. In fact, they look like stunning doubles of the two legendary athletes. It’s hard to tell if Stone and Carell captured the subtleties of both characters since this reviewer didn’t see the actual matches back in 1973 but King herself praised the duo’s performances in multiple interviews.

Nevertheless, it’s apparent that Stone and Carell hustled like King and Riggs to achieve the physique needed for Battle Of The Sexes. Because, without spoiling too much, Stone and Carell played each other on the court for real. Tennis fanatics might pinpoint faults in their play, but it’s hard not to give credit for actors’ efforts.

Another actress worth mentioning is Andrea Riseborough, who plays King’s secret lover, Marilyn Barnett. Riseborough and Stone’s chemistry on screen is magical and out-of-the-world from the first moment they interact.

The most impressive part of the actresses’ performances is how they interpreted and portrayed the difficulties of being in a relationship rejected by the society then. Alan Cumming’s Ted Tinling and his partner Henry (Wallace Langham) add a finishing touch to the sexuality theme with some inspiring and impactful lines while not being over-the-top.

Don’t worry even if you don’t like tennis or sports, Battle Of The Sexes will bring you on an emotional behind-the-scenes journey of how the world’s greatest female tennis player rallied the Americans of the 1970s and left a long-lasting impact and legacy.

Summary: A beautifully written biographical film of Billie Jean King, her fight for feminism, and becoming the world’s best female tennis player, Battle Of The Sexes steals your heart with genius performances, mainly by Emma Stone and Steve Carell.

About the author

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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by Vance Wong


Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.