Just like rom-coms, real life films never get old. Without featuring superheroes or being remakes of some other blockbuster, they have the advantage of being fresh, believable and, most importantly, inspirational. Real life stories are never short of powerful moral lessons, often being the most empowering ones around. And Battle of the Sexes is set to be just that, with a cast led by Oscar-winner Emma Stone (La La Land) and comedian Steve Carell (best known for The Office), promising to silence the mean comments about male superiority in sport that are still going on.
Battle of the Sexes follows the story of the 29 year-old world No 1 female tennis player Billie Jean King (Stone) and her legendary fight against a male-ruled system in 1973 when she accepted what seemed like an impossible challenge: playing against 55 year-old former world leader (and famous misogynist) Bobby Riggs (Carell) in the most watched tennis match of all time – a match that set in stone the fact that women deserved to be treated equally in sport (and in daily life).
Emma Stone is set to steal the spotlight once again, considering her very recent success with musical La La Land, in which she had to act, sing and dance as Mia – and she did all of it gracefully. Battle of the Sexes sees her taking on another challenging part both physically (it can’t be easy to play the best tennis player in the world, even if it was 44 years ago) and mentally. The film’s trailer shows a focus on Stone’s character as she struggles through the entire fight against the system and has an affair with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough).
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (the duo best known for Little Miss Sunshine) and written by Oscar-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) the film is set to feature some very angering conversations between King and the tennis male elite that are certain to set the viewer on fire. Steve Carell’s Bobby Riggs promises to be an opponent both funny and frustrating for Billie Jean King – the trailer shows him in some hilarious situations (seriously, posing nude with a racquet?) which Carell is sure to perform brilliantly. The few things he says in the trailer are very cringe-worthy, so we can only imagine the levels of frustration this film is going to attain. Oh, but how satisfying the payback is going to be!
Battle of the Sexes won’t be spectacular in the common sense of the word. Its power will lie in its certainty – although it might seem really absurd to us at times, we’ll know it happened. In 1973, Billie Jean King famously fought one of the battles that paved the way towards the equality we as a society are getting closer and closer to. And maybe it’s time that story is told again, not through a documentary, but through a film featuring well-known actors that will attract the audience the story deserves.
Battle of the Sexes (2017), directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, is due to be released by Fox Searchlight UK on 24th November. Certificate TBC.