The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for its strong reveal of female flair not least an endearing coming-of-age comedy directed by 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 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 means various things. The first, and least welcome, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the town for stymies 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 ground, which fetches 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 renown entitle has the legs to make it a competitor in the gifts race.
Early marks suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought combat in best available actress category, with a affluence of meaty, female-driven fibs. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the latest from the Little Miss Sunshine directing 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 accord 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 ), was necessary to terms with her own virility. Stone is terrific, holding King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And although some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators outlined audible gasps from the gathering, the themes- equal remuneration and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in boast- continue depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female precede comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous center persona in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial entry, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework parade of showy talk and jostling ideas and a main reputation with a humour that Chastain swings like a switchblade knife. Based on a real-life reference, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier diverted hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who finds herself at the centre of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin panders in a few too many self-congratulatory segues and flourishes, as long as Chastain is on screen- and she’s rarely off- the film has a crackling force and propulsive drive.