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On Her Anxiety and 'Battle of the Sexes'

22 September 2017

Sadly, today's chauvinists will merely cross their arms and say, "Of course a 29-year-old woman can beat a 55-year-old man!" I love women in the bedroom and in the kitchen, but these days, they want to be everywhere. It became known as the "Mother's Day Massacre".

At one point an announcer comments on how much prettier King would be if she lost her glasses and did her hair, a comment that seems particularly jarring in the Trump era. As Stone's King tells Kramer, "Bobby's just a clown". And so, the Virginia Slims Circuit was born. He's a great contemporary player, but Bobby's game is really an old school style of tennis. And when a swinging L.A. hairdresser named Marilyn (Bloodline's Andrea Riseborough) comes into her life, the spark between them threatens to upend not just King's marriage but everything she's worked for professionally.

It's nice to see that Stone has clearly moved past the panic attacks that once used to cripple her.

Suddenly the film develops a whole new tone and meaning after this, and becomes something much deeper than "he's better" or "she's better". She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

"I think it brought up a lot of feelings for her".

Perhaps the gentleness of tone shouldn't come as a shock, considering co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton were behind the 2006 charmer "Little Miss Sunshine".

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He could also, he said, even see through Riggs' larger-than-life act. "It's a really hard game". They tend toward quieter moments, making the intensely emotional scenes all the more powerful. Meanwhile, it was written by Simon Beaufoy. Stone's nervous engagement with Barnett when they first meet, played in soft close-ups, is nicely contrasted with her fearless approach to tennis and the tennis establishment (personified by an officious Bill Pullman as the boss of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, which kicks the women out of its tournaments after they start their own).

While the script is always on Billie Jean's side, it spends an equal amount of time exploring Riggs' life and motivations.

Meanwhile, cinematographer Linus Sandgren and composer Nicholas Britell each do unbelievable work in contributing to the period feel of the film.

You might even be fooled into thinking you're watching archival footage of the real tennis match, since the actors - aided by body doubles, computers and the taped voice of original TV announcer Howard Cosell - do such a convincing job of conjuring the look and sound of the event.

Colbert described that dire evening as a funeral, with the entire audience and cast under a dark cloud given the red turn of the polls. In honor of her new film, let's take a look back at 10 of Stone's greatest film performances.

'On election night, we did a live show on Showtime - I'm sure you didn't catch it, ' he went on to joke.

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Carell is surprisingly heartbreaking as Riggs. "Like I said, I was 9".

Every character in Battle of the Sexes has depth, there isn't a single one who's there just to be a speed bump for the protagonists, and that begins with its remarkably nuanced portrayal of Bobby Riggs.

What could have improved is some more character development on the part of King's husband, Larry (Austin Stowell), or heavier dialogue for Riggs. Margaret is a devout Catholic, and staunchly anti-LGBTQIA. Beyond the sports world she has been a spokesperson for gender equality, gay rights and social justice.

Billie Jean King and Emma Stone at the US Open.

The film is called "Battle Of The Sexes".

DAYTON: And our kids would say, you know, stop fighting.

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FARIS: Oh, it was - I felt like I didn't relax for 2 1/2 years. I was initially skeptical of one of Hollywood's most willowy, slightly built actresses playing a professional athlete, but whatever combination of personal training, body doubles, and movie magic Battle of the Sexes uses works.

On Her Anxiety and 'Battle of the Sexes'