- Director: Jonathan Dayton; Valerie Faris
- Writer: Simon Beaufoy
- Producer: Danny Boyle; Christian Colson
Is it a tennis film? Or, is it a Billie-Jean King behind-the-scenes bio-pic sort of film? It's a bit of both...where seriousness gets lost in a pedestrian, more comedic than it should've been, screenplay.
Yes...it is an entertaining and topical film...but, at what expense? The Battle of the Sexes was a media circus helmed by the contemptible, publicity-seeking, money-hungry Bobby Riggs. Steve Carrell's portrayal does him no favours...but, does paint him with a lighter brush than he [possibly] deserved. Emma Stone does a convincing job...in a watered-down, often-distracted, version of events.
If you really want a film that examines sexism and discrimination [in sport], you will have to look a little further...otherwise, as an introduction to this ludicrous event...it serves its purpose.
In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women's movement, the 1973 tennis match between women's world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men's-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue). Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.
This biopic follows the infamous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film also showed the personal lives of the two tennis players, and focused on the newfound romantic relationship between Billie Jean and her hairdresser, Marilyn. During the time in which the film is set, Billie Jean was still married to a man and very much in the closet, having to hide her relationship and her sexuality. Team costume designer Ted continually provides emotional support for Billie Jean and gives her an inspiring speech at the end of the movie, about how change is coming, and one day they will be able to live freely and proudly out. It is important that Battle of the Sexes did not erase the sexuality of someone who is now known as a lesbian icon, and further, showed her in a loving relationship with a bisexual woman. Many of the queer stories that make it to the big screen still center on the experiences of gay men, and Battle of the Sexes was a refreshing change we would like to see more of. The film earned a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.
Battle of the Sexes was a refreshing change we would like to see more of...well, GLAAD, all you have to do is convince more [interesting] sportsmen and women to come out of the closet and buy their permission for their lives to be made into a film.
If Billie Jean King had not taken part in that ridiculous publicity stunt...a film of her life may not have been that interesting, lesbian or not!