BATTLE OF THE SEXES

Cert 12A 121mins Stars 4

Emma stone comes out swinging in this ace of a tennis drama. Fresh from her best actress Oscar for La La Land, she serves up another great performance as game changing tennis pro, Billie Jean King.

It’s smart blend of biopic, love story, sports movie and gender politics, with the famous 1973 exhibition match King played against Bobby Riggs as the focal point.

An astute businessperson King keenly understands her earning power is dependent on maintaining a saleable image to straight, Christian, white America.

While conducting a high profile public fight for workplace equality, the married King experiences a private sexual awakening. She begins a tender and passionate relationship with her hairdresser, played by Geordie actress Andrea Riseborough,

Steve Carell uses the full scope of his ability to unearth the humanity in the former US and Wimbledon champ, Riggs.

The rabble rouser is selling the match as the ‘male chauvinist pig versus the hairy legged feminist.’

Aged 29 and 55 respectively, Stone and Carell are the correct age or their roles. The tennis is convincing staged and though the speed of the game seems tame by modern standards, but the politics are vicious.

Not only is there a huge prize of $100,000 to win, but King knows her defeat would be as regarded as conclusive evidence of the inferiority of women.

These are the stakes which make this a more gripping film than this year’s other tennis film, the more introspective, Borg v McEnroe.

Entertaining, warm and funny, the script by The Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy emphasises the importance of a level playing field in society, with winning being dependent on talent, dedication and courage.

Its a celebration of dignity, inclusiveness and a compelling argument for not having to compromise your identity in order to earn a living.

Though it’s game set and match to Emma Stone, the real winners are us all.

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