The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for its strong appearance of female aptitude not least an adorable coming-of-age humor directed against Greta Gerwig
It may not have the glamour and sense of opportunity of Cannes, the romance of Venice or the boutique cliquishness of Telluride, but for sheer volume and scope, the Toronto international film gala( or Tiff, to give it its perkily approachable abbreviation) is hard to beat. Even having cut its programme by 20% this year( about 60 films fewer than previous instalments ), Toronto is a monster of an event.
This signifies several acts. The first, and least accepted, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the city for cubes and be administered by systems that border on the Kafkaesque. Punters join them automatically, sometimes without knowing what they are waiting for. But the queues are there for a rationale, which brings us to the second point: the sheer number of sound designations. The timing of Toronto and its length means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a cachet claim has the legs to make it a competitor in the awards race.
Early manifestations suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought combat in the best actress category, with a money of meaty, female-driven narrations. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the latest from the Little Miss Sunshine aiming duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is top of the list. Starring Emma Stone as tennis musician Billie Jean King, the film tells the story of the much-publicised 1973 tennis match between King and ex-champion, and self-proclaimed male-chauvinist boar, Bobby Riggs( Steve Carell, all tragicomic bluster and condescension ). But more than that it’s a love story, in which King, hopelessly smitten with hairdresser Marilyn( Andrea Riseborough ), comes to expressions with her own virility. Stone is terrific, rendering King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And while some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators reaped audible gasp from the audience, the themes- equal remunerate and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in boast- persist depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female lead-in comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous central capacity in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework parade of showy talk and jostling ideas and a main reference with a banter that Chastain manipulates like a switchblade knife. Based on a real-life reputation, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier made hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who ascertains herself at the center of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin indulges in a few too many self-congratulatory segues and prosper, as long as Chastain is on screen- and she’s rarely off- the movie has a crackling power and propulsive drive.