The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for a very strong present of female aptitude not least an adorable coming-of-age slapstick 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 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 signifies several things. The first, and least accepted, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the city for obstructs and managed by plans 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 makes us to the second point: the sheer number of chatter entitles. The timing of Toronto and its length means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a renown name has the legs to make it a challenger in the gives race.
Early manifestations suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought combat in the best actress category, with a opulence of meaty, female-driven tales. 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 actor Billie Jean King, the cinema tells the story of the much-publicised 1973 tennis competitor 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 ), was necessary to periods with her own virility. Stone is terrific, handing King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And while some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators drew audible gasps from the gathering, the topics- equal offer and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in play- abide depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female extend comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous central role in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial introduction, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework expose of showy talk and jostling ideas and a central reference with a ingenuity that Chastain wields like a flick knife. Based on a real-life attribute, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier moved hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who discovers herself at the center of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin revels 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 energy and propulsive drive.