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.
The female protagonists of this film - which depicts the events leading up to the 1973 exhibition tennis match between aging former tennis star Bobby Riggs and women's star Billie Jean King - are arbitrarily dismissed and belittled by their male peers, who question their passion and frequently reduce their value to their physical appearance.
What makes "Battle of the Sexes" great is that it doesn't try to be just one thing, but it encompasses a multitude of ideas smoothly, creating a bond to its audience that will have everyone at the edge of their seat anxious to cheer Billie Jean King on.
"I think what was interesting to us was really what was going on in her social life".
Battle of the Sexes retells an event in American history that's so freaky, it doesn't quite seem true 40 years later.
King said that Billie Jean King's victory represented more than just a call for gender parity in athletics.
That character development, and a thrilling ending when King and Riggs finally play (trust me, it's exciting regardless if you know the outcome), leads to a movie that will leave you with a good feeling coming out of the theater. "[But] the women that I knew, we talked about it for weeks and weeks and weeks". Her burgeoning love affair with her hair dresser (played by Andrea Riseborough) is so sweet and natural, that it manages to be touching, sexy, and life-affirming at the same time.
FARIS: It is a little like a tennis match.
EMMA STONE: (As Billie Jean King) Yeah, I'm done talking. Fortunately, she has been able to recover each time with the help of dedicated therapists, as well as effective cognitive behavioral techniques.
"I shouldn't speak for him-only from his actions can I say that he was happy to live out of the spotlight", Stowell said. The psychological stresses that King suffered subsequent to the events portrayed in this movie, which the filmmakers don't divulge, make sense if you pay attention to what Stone is doing here.
During her interview with Colbert, Stone showed him a drawing that she made when she was in therapy as a 9-year-old. He won Wimbledon in 1939, the same year he reached number one in the world rankings. And, as always, considering the fact that she was a "we" with the women on the tour and not an "I".
Still, King continually points out that not only were women woefully underpaid compared to the men but also that people of color weren't even involved the sport back in the day. Sleeping in lousy hotels and eating in diners, they soon get an upgrade, thanks to an endorsement from Virginia Slims cigarettes, which the women are encouraged to smoke.
King really did ride into the Houston Astrodome on a feather-adorned Cleopatra litter carried by four bare-chested hunks. It opens in USA movie theaters on Friday. "And how white everything was except for Rosie." she says.
In any other year - or perhaps in an alternative timeline - Battle of the Sexes might have come off as a bit of feel good retrospection. "Let's see Serena Williams defeat Roger Federer!"
I would not be surprised if Emma Stone receives another Oscar nomination for this film. She came out as gay in 1981.
"You start to realize that every generation has to start over - fighting for equality".