The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for its strong convey of female endowment not least an charming coming-of-age slapstick directed against Greta Gerwig
It may not have the glamour and gumption of moment of Cannes, the romance of Venice or the boutique cliquishness of Telluride, but for sheer magnitude and scope, the Toronto international cinema carnival( 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 symbolizes various thoughts. The first, and least accepted, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the city for impedes 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 ground, which draws us to the second point: the sheer number of buzz names. The timing of Toronto and its length means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a standing entitlement has the legs to make it a competitor in the bestows race.
Early indications suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought battle in best available actress category, with a money of meaty, female-driven narratives. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the latest from the Little Miss Sunshine leading duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is top of the list. Starring Emma Stone as tennis musician Billie Jean King, the cinema tells the story of the much-publicised 1973 tennis accord between King and ex-champion, and self-proclaimed male-chauvinist animal, 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, contributing King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And although some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators reaped audible gasps from the gathering, the themes- equal spend and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in athletic- continue depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female result comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous center role in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework expose of showy dialogue and jostling ideas and a prime attribute with a witticism that Chastain brandishes like a switchblade knife. Based on a real-life attribute, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier became hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who notices herself at the center of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin gratifies 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 vigour and propulsive drive.