Court bat­tle

Bat­tle of the Sexes (PG) Stars Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Jes­sica McNamee, Alan Cum­ming, Bill Pull­man Re­view by An­nelies Gart­ner

Albany Advertiser - - AGENDA -

Film ex­am­ines ten­nis tus­sle

MOVIE

In 1973, 29-year-old women’s ten­nis star Bil­lie Jean King (Emma Stone) went head-to-head with 55-year-old for­mer men’s champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in what was dubbed the “Bat­tle of the Sexes”.

It was a time when women’s rights were at the fore­front as they were strug­gling for equal­ity — sadly the strug­gle con­tin­ues to this day.

As well as fo­cus­ing on the pol­i­tics and so­cial change of the time, the film looks at the very per­sonal sto­ries of the two champs.

Riggs was fight­ing to stay in the spotlight af­ter his pro­fes­sional re­tire­ment and was feed­ing a gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

King wanted women’s ten­nis to get the recog­ni­tion it de­served at the same time as she was try­ing to come to terms with her sex­u­al­ity.

The movie fea­tures Jes­sica McNamee as Aussie women’s cham­pion Mar­garet Court.

Film­ing was over be­fore Court be­came so vo­cal on mar­riage equal­ity.

Her char­ac­ter in Bat­tle of the Sexes is not fleshed out, but it would have been in­ter­est­ing to ex­plore her per­son­al­ity fur­ther in light of re­cent events, if the tim­ing of the film and Court’s com­ments had co­in­cided.

Although there wasn’t a chance to go down this path the in­clu­sion of the mar­ried King’s re­la­tion­ship with hair­dresser Mar­i­lyn (An­drea Rise­bor­ough) is as in­ter­est­ing as the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Riggs and King.

And she wasn’t the only one hav­ing re­la­tion­ship is­sues, with Riggs and his wife hav­ing mar­i­tal prob­lems at the same time.

Si­mon Beau­foy’s (Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire) com­pelling script en­twin­ing these per­sonal sto­ries with the head-to-head bat­tle be­tween King and Riggs makes this so much more than a sport film.

A re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion by Stone to be­come King, along with no­table per­for­mances by Alan Cum­ming as women’s ten­nis fash­ion de­signer Cuth­bert “Ted” Tin­ling and Bill Pull­man as the sex­ist tour pro­moter Jack Kramer make this film as rel­e­vant and in­spir­ing to­day as it was on the day of the match, 44 years ago.

Pic­ture: Melinda Sue Gor­don - Fox Search­light Pic­tures

Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film Bat­tle of the Sexes.

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