If there’s anyone who can get me interested enough to sit through a biographical drama of tennis, it’s Emma Stone and Steve Carell. When I heard last year they were going to be starring in a movie together, I think I got my hopes up for another Crazy, Stupid, Love. If you can’t tell, I’m not the biggest fan of biographic movies (although I’m beginning to turn, to be honest) and sports has never been my thing.
Battle of the Sexes (2017) tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) in the sports world’s biggest struggle for women and equality. Fed up of women champions being offered as little as an eighth of the prize money that men are offered, Billie Jean starts her own tennis championship for women.
Meanwhile, self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs, in the midst of his struggles with a gambling addiction and a failing marriage, offers to play a match against the women of the tennis world with a huge prize fund, in the ultimate battle of the sexes. It’s an offer that Billie Jean ultimately can’t refuse, but she must also deal with her own personal struggles in her life.
What I love the most about this movie is how engaging the story is. I was expecting something heavily political, something with a lot of tennis lingo that would go over my head, something that would end up boring the pants off me essentially. But I was engrossed from the very start; I guess my lack of knowledge about the great Billie Jean was also to thank.
You see whilst on tour, Billie Jean ends up falling in love with a hairdresser called Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough). The two have an exciting affair, but get caught by Billie Jean’s husband, Larry (Austin Stowell). Larry is one of the kindest characters I’ve ever seen on screen. He finds out about his wife’s affair but instead of confronting her, he does all he can to support her through the build up to the big match, even offering to call Marilyn to help whilst Billie Jean was ill. My heart genuinely hurt for the guy.
And then of course we have Bobby Riggs who provides a lot of the laughs during the movie. His sexist comments are so shocking at times and yet he remains an extremely likeable guy, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. His act stayed strong right up until the final match (I won’t tell you the outcome just in case you’re like me and had no idea how it would go) but the way his story ended was perfectly fitting.
Just before the credits roll the movie gives us a summary of what happened after the game which really moved me, and then we got shown photos of the real Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, and I just can’t believe how similar they are!
If you can’t tell, I have so much love for this movie. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it, so that’s why Battle of the Sexes gets 5 out of 5 tennis balls from me.