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Emma Stone as "Billie Jean King" and Steve Carell as "Bobby Riggs" in BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved


This film could not have been made in 1973; 44 years hence directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris gift movie-goers, more than a historical, ground-breaking tennis match but a compelling, introspective study in self-discovery. Emma Stone and Steve Carell soar as the legendary Billy Jean King (1943-) and Bobby Riggs (1918-95), making it difficult to differentiate between the real and their doppelgangers; the iconic, perception-pulverizing match is pristinely, superbly replicated; knowing the outcome does not diminish the thrill.

The film’s legitimacy lies in the writing (Simon Beaufoy) and the portrayals of the secondary characters: Andrea Riseborough, gives a powerful, empathetic performance as Marilyn Barnett, comfortable in her romantic preferences, igniting Billy Jean’s hibernating sexuality; Elizabeth Shue portrays Bobby’s wealthy, forever suffering wife, Priscilla, with an equitable dose of aplomb and frustration; Alan Cumming, outrageously scandalous, as stylist Ted Tinling; Austin Stowell is marvelous as Larry King, Billy’s deliciously handsome, cuckolded husband; Bill Pullman as broadcaster Jack Kramer is a metaphor for male chauvinist¬†dogma, pervasive at the time.

Billy Jean attributes “self-awareness” as the key component in the creation of a champion; “Battle of the Sexes” is revelatory on many levels: massive physical demands of a professional athlete; in an age of same/sex marriage, the painful tribulations of its pioneers; the vast courage required in separating from the “norm”, recognizing that “the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire” ultimately finding equanimity and peace.





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