The 42 nd Toronto film festival was notable for its strong exhibition of female knack not least an endearing coming-of-age slapstick directed by Greta Gerwig
It may not have the glamour and feel of occasion of Cannes, the romance of Venice or the boutique cliquishness of Telluride, but for sheer capacity 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 movies fewer than previous instalments ), Toronto is a monster of an event.
This signifies various occasions. The first, and least welcome, of these is queues. Miles of them, snaking around the streets of the city for obstructs and managed by structures 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 sound names. The timing of Toronto and its size means that it is an ideal platform on which to test whether a renown entitlement has the legs to make it a challenger in the bestows race.
Early signals suggest that it’s going to be another hard-fought duel in best available actress category, with a asset of meaty, female-driven fibs. And the crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes , the latest from the Little Miss Sunshine guiding duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is top of the list. Starring Emma Stone as tennis player 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 swine, 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 words with her own sexuality. Stone is terrific, paying King a steely sweetness and a disarming vulnerability. And while some of the overt antediluvian sexism from the commentators sucked audible gasps from the audience, the topics- equal pay and equal opportunities for women, LGBT acceptance in sport- persist depressingly timely.
Another powerhouse female extend comes from Jessica Chastain, playing the eponymous central character in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial introduction, Molly’s Game . This is pretty much the archetypal Sorkin project- a slick firework showing of showy talk and jostling ideas and a primary persona with a humor that Chastain maintains like a switchblade knife. Based on a real-life reputation, Molly is a former Olympic-standard skier moved hostess of unlicensed, high-stakes poker games, who spots herself at the center of an FBI investigation. While Sorkin revels 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 intensity and propulsive drive.