Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Lewis Pullman
Seen on: 26.8.2018

Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is a successful tennis player, fed up with the sexism in the industry that keeps female players down. Fellow player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is adamant that female players are paid less because they are less entertaining and also less good at tennis. Finally the beack and forth leads to a tennis match between the two that becomes emblematic for the entire fight for women’s rights.

Battle of the Sexes was nice, but it remains flatter than it should have been and doesn’t dare to rock the boat too much, which is disappointing.

The film poster showing Emma Stone and Steve Carell.

Battle of the Sexes does try to make a feminist point, but ultimately it’s lowest common denominator feminism, proudly proclaiming that women really should have the same rights as men, but refusing to acknowledge that this is a pretty radical demand that goes way deeper than it would appear at first. And that is disappointing.

I mean, I didn’t expect the film to be like a feminist manifesto, but I would have hoped for it to be a little more daring, actually taking some risk with its feminism, maybe. But at least a little feminism is better than none, I guess.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film.

I can’t shake the feeling that the film would have worked better and wouldn’t have felt so incredibly shallow if it had taken more risks. Because despite the good things about it – like the cast and the music – the film just bubbles along and never hits particular heights or depths.

For me, the most interesting thing about it was Billie Jean’s husband Larry (Austin Stowell) – and believe me, I’m aware of the irony that a dude was the most intriguing character in a film filled with cool women. But even he remained too flat to really capture me.

Ultimately the film is too pleasant for its own good. A little bit of discomfort would have made a lot of difference.

Sarah Silverman and Emma Stone in the film.

Summarizing: nice enough.

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