Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7/10
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carrel, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elizabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Martha MacIsaac, Lauren Kline, Fidan Manashirova, Jessica McNamee, Ashley Weinhold, Austin Stowell, Wallace Langham, Bridey Elliott, Lewis Pullman.
It will go down as arguably one of the most defining sporting events of the 20th Century, a match in which a showman, a former sporting hero sought out publicity of any kind in which to prove he was still capable of being a big draw in the men’s game and that of one of the most iconic female sports personalities to have ever held a racket in her hands. The Battle of the Sexes, Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, two very different people brought together by two things, ego and the harsh reality of allowing the public to see beyond the star on court.
It seems so long ago now that the first square off in the sports arena of the search for equality happened, another time, another country, so much has happened since and yet the fight goes on, it must after all, still so much is inadequate, still so much is caught up in the mindset of outdated thinking, but the first gunshot can be traced back to the match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King and it is always worth celebrating that fact.
Whilst it is impossible to agree with Margaret Court’s public stance on LGBTQ rights, the film finds ways to subtly demonise the highly decorated Australian sportswoman, the small digs with the camera, the words that come across, all designed to inflame a situation that in reality at the time didn’t happen. The story of two sporting greats is the main event but somehow Hollywood manages to whitewash the relationship between Ms. King, her husband and her lover, portrayed with genuine kindness by Andrea Riseborough, to the point of sanitising and discrediting. All parties involved deserved so much more care and attention by the makers of the film and perhaps not showing the event as a noble enterprise.
The Battle of The Sexes is a film of two halves, one in which the spectacle of the situation, the wonderful flourish of Feminism held true to its ideals and the fight for equality for all really started to gather momentum and the backdrop of distortion. One in which Alan Cummins was a delight on screen, Steve Carrel and Emma Stone give splendid performances and in which the whole 1970s backdrop was played out with stirring passion and yet somehow leaving a bad taste in the mouth for historical purists.
This is a story of love, one in which cannot be ignored, for the love of the game, of another human being, of the self publicity but also of redemption, of finding who you are, even late in life.
Ian D. Hall