The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for a very strong evidence of female knack not least an charming coming-of-age slapstick directed against Greta Gerwig
It may not have the glamour and sense of party of Cannes, the romance of Venice or the boutique cliquishness of Telluride, but for sheer magnitude and scope, the Toronto international movie festival( or Tiff, to give it its perkily approachable abbreviation) is hard to beat. Even having cut its programme by 20% this year( about 60 cinemas fewer than previous instalments ), Toronto is a monster of an event.
This necessitates several things. The first, and least accepted, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the town for impedes and be administered by organizations that border on the Kafkaesque. Punters join them automatically, sometimes without knowing what they are waiting for. But the queues are there for a reason, which produces us to the second point: the sheer number of chatter titles. The timing of Toronto and its width means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a cachet title has the legs to make it a challenger in the gives race.
Early signals suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought engagement in the best actress category, with a opulence of meaty, female-driven narrations. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the latest from the Little Miss Sunshine targeting duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is top of the list. Starring Emma Stone as tennis actor Billie Jean King, the movie tells the story of the much-publicised 1973 tennis competition 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 sexuality. Stone is terrific, devoting King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And although some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators gleaned audible gasps from the audience, the topics- equal spend and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in boast- remain depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female lead comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous center character in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial introduction, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework display of showy exchange and jostling ideas and a central character with a fun that Chastain swings like a flick knife. Based on a real-life persona, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier altered hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who find 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 cinema has a crackling intensity and propulsive drive.