‘Battle of the Sexes’ Review 3.5/5 STARS

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*bang*
Hear that?
That’s the starting pistol for my Oscar watch.

I’ll be contributing to Flick Fans quite a bit in the coming months, alternating it with my
contributions to another site, The Daily CPA. Check it out – especially if you’re in accounting or finance.

My first review will be for what I consider one of the first Oscar contenders of this season (Not to overlook Dunkirk and Get OutBattle of the Sexes. Some of my friends saw it and liked it, and I do enjoy Steve Carell and Emma Stone, so I thought I’d see it, too. I was also eager to see it since I enjoyed Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ first film, and I missed their last one, Ruby Sparks.

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As the title would suggest, this film offers a new perspective on the famous 1973 tennis
match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Billed across America as the “Battle
of the Sexes”, the match was a major turning point not just in the world of professional
tennis, but in the history of the fight for women’s equality. When Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs that afternoon in Houston, it showed that yeah, women could play tennis. Women could outperform men. And most importantly, women deserved the same amount of respect as men obtained in sports and society.

With their depiction of such a historical event, Dayton and Faris have created a
narrative that is accessible, relatable, and often times, a lot of fun. Even though I felt
the writing was at times trite and unrevealing of real character development, I still was engaged by the characters and their relationships with each other – King with Riggs,
both of them with their respective spouses, and *possible spoiler alert* King with her
hairdresser that eventually becomes her lover.

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Speaking to their portrayals of the leading roles, Emma Stone and Steve Carell give
wonderful performances. As Billie Jean King, there’s power in Stone’s interpretation of
her as a real person, torn between her love for tennis and her need to have a companion by her side, even if that person isn’t her husband. And with Bobby Riggs’ pregame antics and attitudes toward women that are so chauvinistic they can hardly be considered real, Carell paints a fun yet poignant picture of the showman that Riggs was while still maintaining a foot in reality. A reality which hits at the end of the film, when King wins the match.

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Do I think Battle of the Sexes is a serious awards season contender? Aside from Emma Stone being nominated once more for “Best Actress in Leading Role’, I’d say probably not. I see it being nominated for Golden Globes, certainly, but a multitude of nominations at the Oscars…I think only the coming months will tell. Nonetheless, if you want to see an enjoyable film with great performances and a story-line that, although lacking in substantial depth, captivates you from beginning to end…hit the court for this one.

3.5/5 STARS

Contribution By Nick Nappo

njnappo@gmail.com

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