By Frank Portillo
Emma Stone delivers a powerful and gripping performance as tennis star Billie Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes.”
Set in the 1970s, when sexism and homophobia was prevalent in society and media, the film tells a story of dealing with the obstacles that arise from these issues.
The film not only focuses on the huge tennis match that took place in the ‘70s between the female tennis star and sexist Bobby Riggs, but spends a great amount of time on King’s sexuality.
While at the top of her sport, King begins to question the difference in prize money between men and women.
In a demand for respect, she finds herself leaving the Association of Tennis Professionals and trying to establish the Women’s Tennis Association.
Jack Kramer, played by Bill Pullman, and Riggs are among the many people who scoffed at the idea of women being equal to men. To prove his point, Riggs offers a larger prize to attract women to play against him. Fighting for equality, King accepts an offer from Riggs to play in an exhibition game to demand respect from the opposite sex.
The filmmakers did a beautiful job at utilizing the first half of the film to set up the showdown between the two characters by exploring their motivations and backstories, giving each character greater stakes.
The best aspect of this film is the love story between King and Marilyn Barnett, played by Andrea Riseborough. While not completely accurate, the filmmakers do a great job at conveying the role that her sexuality played in her life. Going on the journey with King is an interesting one, considering the fact that she was married to a man. The audience can’t help but become emotional because of Stone’s performance, which conveys the hardships of living with barriers between her and her true self.
“Battle of the Sexes” is very similar in tone to the new Netflix series “G.L.O.W.,” which is the story of women in the wrestling world.
It is surprising how much stuff was taken from real life. Riggs’ shenanigans were over-the-top and was portrayed beautifully by Steve Carell, who continues to deliver great performances after his longtime stint as the star of “The Office.”
The filmmakers waste no time playing up Riggs’ gambling issues, as his introduction features the character teaching his young son about betting.
Carell was a great choice to play Riggs and does a great job at bringing the hustler to life.
Having appeared in projects with Stone before, the two put on an engaging performance.
Also in the film is Sarah Silverman, who disappears into her role as Gladys Heldman.
Fans of Silverman will be hard pressed to find any resemblance with her change of voice and makeup.
The film does an amazing job at pointing out the flaws in the argument that claims men are the better sexes.
“Battle of the Sexes” is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity.