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FILM REVIEW: Battle Of The Sexes

Reviewed by Entertainment Reporter, John Caldwell.

"Whilst this movie is based on a story from 44 years ago, it’s still funny, intelligent, moving, and astonishingly as relevant today as it was 44 years ago in more ways than one.

Arguably one of the world’s greatest Tennis Players, Billie Jean King was the first female tennis player to make a stand for equal pay of men and women athletes.

When the old boys club refused to pay women any more than one eighth the prize money that men received, Billie Jean established the first ever female tour.

The film follows the spectacle that is the newly established women’s team and throws in just the right amount of humour, light hearted anecdotes, and inspiration to balance the otherwise serious and at times emotional story line.

Playing Billie Jean King, Oscar winner Emma Stone gives possibly her best performance ever, without a doubt mastering Kings trademark of determination balanced with being completely socially awkward.

At no point during this film did I think I was watching Emma Stone, she completely transports you to 1973 in a truly believable performance.

You can’t help but be entranced by the resolve of Billie Jean and the entire women’s team who risk everything to make a stand for equal pay.

The extra punch though is not just the equal pay message, but the overall equal rights message the story highlights.

What starts out as a pay dispute ends up highlighting the complete degrading of women who are still seen to be very worthy, “as long as they are in the kitchen or the bedroom.”

Given the film launched in Australia during the same week Lisa Wilkinson left her job due to being paid half that of her male counterpart, the glaring reality that we really haven’t progressed as much as we thought in the last 44 years is a real slap in the face. 

In another extremely relevant plot line, Billie Jean struggles between being her true self with what is ‘acceptable’ to everyone else.

The classic line being “one day we might all be free to love whoever we like” once again highlights how relevant this story still is today.

The icing on the cake is Margaret Court’s character as the villain brilliantly played by Jessica McNamee, who makes her homophobic tenancies clear in the film.

This is something that seemingly also hasn’t changed in 44 years.

And if so far this wasn’t enough of an emotional roller coaster, throw in the underlying tones of married Billie Jean struggling with her sexuality and an affair with her hairdresser - you’re reaching for the tissues!

The wildcard here though is Steve Carell, who’s not typically one my favorite actors.

However, Carell really shows his acting cops playing former Tennis Pro come Male Chauvinist whose let himself go; Bobby Riggs. The character is very OTT, suiting Carell’s normal style, and when the role calls for a serious side he really steps up to the plate.

If you’re anything like me you will feel completely ignorant at how little we know about this story, the true impact that Billie Jean King had and, the personal sacrifice she made.

I am now a massive Billie Jean King fan and a huge fan of this film. Surely it will score more than a few Oscar noms!

5 thumbs up."

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