Playing it safe

OUT NOW! Billie Jean King biopic BATTLE OF THE SEXES is a a well-executed crowd-pleaser but is ultimately too timid to win any awards.

It’s that time of the year when films begin to divide themselves into award hopefuls and those that fall on the other side of the court, but Battle of the Sexes balances precariously on the net. From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, this biopic playfully pits self-styled chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) against feminist icon Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), who famously played each other in a much-publicised exhibition, which King used as a platform to protest the vast pay gap between male and female players. It also follows King’s burgeoning relationship with her hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough), powerfully conveying a sense of how coming out as gay at this time might have been a career-ending move. The result is reminiscent of the recent Hidden Figures: a well-executed crowd-pleaser that ably addresses important issues with contemporary ties, but which ultimately plays it too safe for accolades.

Battle of the Sexes | Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valeria Faris (US 2017) with Emma Stone, Steve Carrell. Starts November 23

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