Sunday, 1 October 2017

'Battle of the Sexes': 1973 or 2017? - Review (2017)

Half Price: A solid biopic, uplifting and well acted. 
The beauty of cinema is that it can transport you to a time and a place you didn't think you could experience yourself. A bygone era that is so different from the times you live in, it feels as though it took place on a different planet. 'Battle of the Sexes', a movie about the incredible tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, does not provide that sense of escapism. The picture it paints feels all too often like a self-portrait of today.

After the 2016 United States election, I can't think of a more relevant film to come out. The qualified and less charismatic Billie Jean King played by Emma Stone, against the loud bombastic Bobby Riggs, played by Steve Carrell, certainly, gives a parallel. The beauty of 'Battle of the Sexes' is the way it gives each of these counterparts a sense of identity. They're public figures, but like the best biopics, you leave the film feeling as though you knew them as people.

With one that REALLY looks like Steve Carrell.

You watch Billie Jean King go through the same journey as the heroes from sports movies past. The movie does a fantastic job of intertwining her own path, with the path of women everywhere. The tennis match itself holds little stake for the characters, but you never lose sight of how important it was for the world.

If I had one gripe with 'The Battle of the Sexes' is that it at times felt entirely too clean. The film gets into the nitty-gritty of Billie Jean's life but still feels as though it might've been holding back. The movie loses a sense of genuineness because of it. Moments come up where you're watching 'The Battle of the Sexes' and you'll be hard-pressed to forget you're watching a movie. It's a well-made movie, with great performances and a captured 70s aesthetic, but it never makes you feel immersed in its world.

A strange and bewildering world.

While I couldn't forget I was watching a movie, what a movie it was. It's definitely one that you will hear about come Oscar season, especially as it relates to the film's stellar performances. There are even a few side characters that shine, despite having little to nothing to do. Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman was particularly entertaining, especially considering it seemed as though she could go over the top at any given moment.

The movie tells the story of the 'Battle of the Sexes' well. You definitely understand how important it was, and you feel the struggle of the characters dealing with the extraordinary position they find themselves in. It's a movie that will no doubt serve as an inspiration to many, even if it feels slightly disingenuous at times. I'd say it's worth your time, but maybe at a discount.

Rating: Half Price