Directed By: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Written By: Simon Beaufoy
Cinematography By: Linus Sandgren
Editor: Pamela Martin
Cast: Steve Carrell, Emma Stone, Bill Pullman, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Elisabeth Shue, Martha MacIssac, Alan Cumming, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Mickey Sumner, Wallace Langham, Matt Molloy, Bridey Elliott, Chris Parnell, Mike Vogel, Tom Kenny, Jamey Sheridan
In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.
There is nothing wrong with the film technically. You just might find yourself struggling to pay attention and really get into the film. If you have heard of the story or not.
The problem with the movie is that while it shows the personal stakes of what was going on behind the scenes and offers us a glimpse of the times and what was happening as far as culture. The film never becomes captivating instead it presents some facts, fabrications and story, but never makes it quite as exciting or interesting as he film seeks to want to make the audience feel. Instead it comes off almost like a slyly written report more than anything. Almost more an excuse for stars to play types trying to stretch their acting muscles that ultimately fit a true story. In the end it comes off with them Seeming more comfortable than anything. The same can be said of plenty of recognizable actors in smaller roles throughout the film.
Both characters have a dramatic arc. Bobby’s is More simple and comedic. So that he becomes more of a side player and ultimately not truly a villain but a rival and more of a symbol of the old boys club and masculinity. Even as the film humanizes him and gives him a dramatic angle. He seems more like a comedic relief than anything else. As he see’s this match more as allowing him fame and to get back in the public eye with a gimmick he really doesn’t believe but knows how to sell.
Steve Carrell brings a humanism to bobby’s more social and silly personality.
For Billie jean it’s more an uphill battle and wanting to make this match about something as she knows at first it is more of a challenge and stunt. Though by accepting it she seeks respect for her and her gender.
Emma stone completely transforms but doesn’t call attention to herself as she immerses herself into the role. Here are no showcase moments for her. Though she leaves quite an impression as she gives the role her all. Her side of the film is more about the challenge but also more a romance as she is in the closet as far as her sexuality and ends up falling in love with her hairdresser. While she is in a straight marriage.
The film sugarcoats Billie Jean King ‘s love affair with Marilyn Barnett. In 1981, Barnett sued King, invoking the palimony law, and nearly destroying King’s career. It took years for King to rebuild what she’d lost.
The true villain the film seems to paint is Bill Pullman’s if any
There is so much history and information given that it really just dramatizes it. As you know the outcome. So most of the movie is in the lead up. Though it seems an interesting subject to learn about through other means. As for dramatizing it works but feels so loaded down in history that it’s focus seems so wide it gets a little confusing.
The film is directed well but the filmmaking is never exciting. It’s seamless though.
It’s fine to see how this match played out and gained more meaning then it seemed it was supposed to that seemed more a distraction. The film eventually also becomes a film of not only feminism Birthday also LGBTQ rights eventually. As it seems more in the past fighting to be who she really is, even if she has to hide a certain part of herself.