McCann At The Movies: Hard To Find Fault With This Entertaining And Timely Film

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Our movie guy, John McCann, says ‘Battle Of The Sexes’ is a socially important film with great performances from the leads…

In 1973, in the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, a tennis match between women’s World No. 1 Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler/gambler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the Battle of the Sexes.

It 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 escalated, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.

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When you gather the directorial talent of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) and add in the written works of Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and the acting talent of the likes of Emma Stone and Steve Carrell you would expect the result to be a production of high quality, compelling entertainment and in Battle of the Sexes that is predominately the case.

Emma Stone and Steve Carrell in ‘Battle of the Sexes’.

From the outset, thanks to Linus Sandgren’s cinematography, this biopic captures that retro 70’s feel perfectly and visually it looks amazing.

Tonally , it hits the mark also interweaving humour with social observation effortlessly in a crowdpleasing manner.

The lead actors are what really make this tick however, with Emma Stone proving emphatically that her Oscar win for La la land last year was no fluke with a mesmerising performance as Bille Jean King.

Steve Carrell also excels on a role that he was simply born to play as hustler and larger than life character Bobby Riggs.

This extremely smart film blindsides it’s audience by making it’s point in a much more subtle way than most features would, with the audience at times being sidetracked by the charm and entertainment on show yet never left in doubt of the strong timely social message attached.

There are certain drawbacks that prevent this biopic from reaching true greatness however. For one, the supporting cast can’t seem to match the vigour and energy of their leading actors with the likes of Bill Pullman and Alan Cumming in particular hamming it up to panto levels.

It could also do with a running time trim of about twenty minutes or so but I’m nitpicking at this stage.

On the whole, in Battle of the Sexes the audience are not only treated finally to a decent movie about the game of tennis but a highly entertaining, socially important biopic that aces largely due it’s two leading stars.


For more of John McCann’s movie reviews, check out his Facebook page here and website here

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