Battle of the Sexes 25.11.17
This was a sweet, uplifting experience, of a face-off in the zero-sum game of patriarchy, where on this occasion the right person wins. Emma Stone is a strong Billy Jean King, her battle for women's respect blended within a tender LGBT love story. Steve Carell is a surprisingly likeable Bobby Riggs, a little-boy-lost who needs attention. The trailer and the poster show them as adversaries, but as Stone's Billy Jean says near the end, Riggs is a hapless, even slightly tragic clown, it's the men in suits controlling the money that are really the ones in her line of fire.
I loved the light and the colours of this film, whether in sunny California or the spotlights of the Houston Astrodome. The film captures the 1970s palette of bright yellows and greens of the outfits or Billy Jean's blue Adidas sports shoes. The coming-of-age love story is gently done, Billy Jean's husband portrayed sympathetically. Billy Jean meanwhile is no isolated outsider in this film, but a strong-willed alpha among fun-loving friends and colleagues, with Sarah Silverman an acerbic promoter and Alan Cummings the kind of tailor you want on your side. The soundtrack has a song at the end that captures the uplifting, gentle cool of the movie, I'll be Youtubing it later, it stayed with me as I left the cinema and walked home in the freezing night air, thinking of sunlight.I also think back to the last time I watched a film called Battle of the Sexes, a 1950s black-and-white Ealing comedy, in which a ruthlessly modernising American businesswoman descends on Edinburgh and threatens to strip a company of its soul. She loses that battle to the hero of the film, she's dragged away hysterically at the end, her plans foiled. Can two films with the same title be any more opposite? How glad I am to be around now and not the 1950s, that golden age venerated by men of a certain age.