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Battle of the Sexes - Film Review

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by Jonathon Tonkin (subscribe)
I'm a 26 year old male Senior Reporter for Weekend Notes. I Graduated from A Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Communication) at UniSA in 2014. As well as writing for WN I have also done pieces for the Adelaide 36s and Mawson Lakes Living.
Published September 29th 2017
Game Set Match
Equality and women's rights have been at the forefront of social discussion for some time now. As time goes on, the voices that speak out for fairness and equality get louder and more numerous. With such strength and determination amongst those speaking out, it's good to look back at a time where things weren't so easy. A time where social norms had women take a back seat and remain silent in a male-dominated world. The struggles that were dealt with are much the same as today but the conditions more repressive.

Battle of the Sexes, Fox, Film, Tennis, Biographical
Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs.


Battle of the Sexes exemplifies one of the pivotal moments in the fight for equal pay and respect that still continues today. In 1973, former World No1 Bobby Riggs is struggling to remain relevant. The best days of his career are behind him yet Riggs is still a hustler to his core. Not wanting to be out of the limelight and always good for a bet, Riggs comes up with the idea for The Battle of the Sexes. Capitalising on the current social climate within tennis for equality, he makes a challenge out to the Women's World No1. Claiming that the women's tennis scene is inferior and that he can beat any woman in a match. Hence began one of the greatest stories in tennis and more importantly the fight for equal rights amongst women.

Battle of the Sexes is a biographical drama-comedy that follows Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs as they contend with their own struggles in the events that led up to their historical match.

King, played by Emma Stone, fights against a male orientated tennis world. Striking out on her own she creates her own tennis organisation to compete with the current male controlled USLTA. Riggs, play by Steve Carell, deals with his own battles with gambling, relationships, and life after professional tennis.

Battle of the Sexes is mainly a movie about the hardships that all the characters who were caught up in the whirlwind of the historic match faced. Going beyond the overlying issue of equal pay for women it delves into King's conflict with her sexuality as she has to keep her feelings secret to protect the organisation she built. The people close to King who are brought into a world where tennis is everything and they're just along for the ride. The film greatly humanises the supposed villain of the story, Bobby Riggs, a hustler through and through who is just wanting to make one more bet to the detriment of those who care for him.

Battle of the Sexes, Fox, Film, Tennis, Biographical


Steve Carell easily delivers the best performance in this film. Playing the self-proclaimed "male, chauvinistic pig" he presents an egotistical, eccentric showman who has made self-promotion an art form. He plays Riggs as an ambitious jokester who at many points seems very fragile and lonely yet consistently puts on a mask when the camera is rolling and those important to him are looking on. As the instigator of all the volatile rhetoric during the Battle of the Sexes saga, you can't help but feel for Bobby's own desires and motivations during the film.

Directors Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Faris previously found critical acclaim with their heart-warming film, Little Miss Sunshine. In Battle of the Sexes, they bring their solid storytelling talent to mesh the stories of two seemingly polar opposite characters. They bring out their similarities and likenesses and create a movie where you enjoy the stories arcs of every character being unveiled to you. The Battle between King and Riggs is only on the surface, it's only a precursor to something that is bigger than both of them. Both characters have their own battles which they have to deal with that has nothing to do with tennis. Dayton and Faris have created a film that presents a fight where no one really loses. Despite the score at the end everyone has stood proud, made an achievement and become stronger from their experiences.

Battle of the Sexes, Fox, Film, Tennis, Biographical
In cinemas everywhere now.


Battle of the Sexes is in cinemas as of the 28th of September. It's a definite recommendation for anyone who wants a slice of 1970's history and a retelling of a great moment in the fight for women's rights. A biographical that has the charm and heart of any great story. Game Set Match.
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