Battle of the Sexes Review
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Each day, a very public—and highly controversial—battle for justice and equality rages on. But that’s really nothing new. Right now, it seems to be taking place on the sidelines of football stadiums—and especially on social media. But, as Battle of the Sexes shows, in 1973, it took place on the tennis court.

Battle of the Sexes follows the story leading up to widely-hyped 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former men’s champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). As King and her fellow female players work together to fight for gender equality in the sport, Riggs struggles with a failing marriage and a gambling addiction. For him, a match against the women’s champion is mostly just a phenomenal publicity stunt—and a great paycheck. But, for her, it’s more than just a tennis match; it’s a very public statement.

There’s a lot going on in this film—so much more than just one tennis match. And while everything builds to the final showdown between King and Riggs, the story here is more about the social issues behind the tennis match. The main focus is on King—on her fight for gender equality in sports and her struggle with her own identity. When she discovers that the Pacific Southwest tournament is offering male champions eight times the prize money as female champions, she breaks away to start her own women’s tour, making huge sacrifices for the cause. And you’ll admire her for her strength and determination—both on and off the court.

Stone’s performance as the tennis great is remarkable—and often absolutely mesmerizing. From her physical transformations to her mannerisms, she throws herself into the role—giving the character both fire and vulnerability.

Carell’s Riggs, meanwhile, is the perfect comic counterpart to Stone’s strong, serious King. Of course, there’s more to him than just his over-the-top public persona—and the film explores that in a small part, too. But the ridiculous antics of this attention-grabbing hustler certainly keep the film from becoming too heavy.

Still, the film isn’t without its flaws. Though King’s relationship with hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough) is obviously an essential part of her life story, it’s given a little too much focus here. As it may have in King’s life, it sometimes distracts attention away from the game—and from the battle at hand. But while the pacing may drag at times, it all comes together to tell a remarkable story of someone who stood up to social injustice and made a difference in a very public way.

More than just another rousing but forgettable sports movie, Battle of the Sexes is a film with both historical value and entertainment value. And it’s well worth taking a break from the latest Twitter battle for a couple of hours to learn about this fight for equality on the court.

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