Battle of the Sexes revolves around an event take took place in 1973. The way directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris shoot this biopic is even reminiscent of the films that came out of that era. Yet, Battle of the Sexes is an incredibly relevant movie that America needs right now. It touches base on numerous themes that are just as significant today as they were back then: equal pay for women, LGBT rights, sexism, etc. The film demonstrates just how much has changed since then while also showing how little has changed. Even when progression loses the battle, though, there will always be people willing to fight the war.
Emma Stone transforms herself as Billie Jean King, a tennis player literally at the top of her game. Nevertheless, her and her fellow female players still find themselves making less than the men. With the women’s liberation movement in full swing, King leads a revolt against the industry and starts her own tennis association. Meanwhile, she begins to question her sexuality upon entering a relationship with a hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough) while also trying to remain loyal to her devoted husband (Austin Stowell). Of course at the end of the day, tennis is her one true love.
Steve Carell dominates the screen as Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old tennis player that’s always looking for an excuse to gamble. Enticed by King’s actions, Riggs challenges her a highly publicized match. King rejects the offer at first, but gives it a second thought when Riggs crushes Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) in a game. With the future of women in tennis on the line, King sees no choice but to accept the challenge. Along the way, Riggs does everything he can to set womankind back another hundred years.
While King’s depicted as the smart, strong-willed woman she is, the filmmakers wisely don’t reduce Riggs to a one-note villain. Although he’s not portrayed in the most positive light, we can definitely see how somebody like Riggs could exist. As he parades in front of the camera like a buffoon and makes absurd statements, we’re never sure if Riggs is being 100% serious or just putting on a show. He does everything with such unapologetic confidence, however, that it’s obvious why so many people rooted for him. Huh, doesn’t that sound familiar?
It’s hard to watch Battle of the Sexes without thinking about the 2016 US presidential election. The parallels between Riggs and Donald Trump, not to mention King and Hillary Clinton, are eerily similar. While the most recent battle of the sexes didn’t have the happiest outcome, this film builds up to a truly satisfying and hopeful showdown. The climax notably manages to be exhilarating without relying on fast editing or camera tricks, presenting the match between King and Riggs as if we were watching on television. As entertaining as it is timely, Battle of the Sexes is one of the most important movies of the year. The fact that it was made by a man and woman only further enforces the fact that both genders are equal.