The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for its strong appearance of female flair not least an endearing coming-of-age humor directed by Greta Gerwig
It may not have the glamour and gumption of reason of Cannes, the romance of Venice or the boutique cliquishness of Telluride, but for sheer magnitude and scope, the Toronto international film 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 films fewer than previous instalments ), Toronto is a monster of an event.
This intends various happenings. The first, and least welcome, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the city for blockages and managed by arrangements 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 hum entitles. The timing of Toronto and its size means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a renown title has the legs to make it a competitor in the apportions race.
Early clues suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought duel in best available actress category, with a capital of meaty, female-driven floors. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the most recent from the Little Miss Sunshine targeting duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is top of the list. Starring Emma Stone as tennis player Billie Jean King, the film tells the story of the much-publicised 1973 tennis competitor 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 terms with her own sexuality. Stone is terrific, demonstrating King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And while some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators described audible gasps from the audience, the themes- equal pay and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in play- abide depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female extend comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous center persona in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial introduction, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework spectacle of showy talk and jostling ideas and a main attribute with a humour that Chastain manipulates like a flick knife. Based on a real-life attribute, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier changed hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who meets herself at the center of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin indulges in a few too many self-congratulatory segues and flourishes, as long as Chastain is on screen- and she’s rarely off- the cinema has a crackling vigor and propulsive drive.