Battle of the Sexes

An 18th-century battle of the sexes that contains a radiant performance by Mira Sorvino as a princess whose complicated scheme to win the man she loves finds her juggling three suitors at once, all while disguised as a man. "I'm losing track of my own plot," she giddily confesses at one point and no wonder. To win the heart of young Agis, she must not only hide her royal identity and disguise her gender, but also woo and win the hearts of the brother (Sir Ben Kingsley) and sister (Fiona Shaw) who serve as the young man's guardians. Adapted from a play by a popular French dramatist of the day, the story takes a satirical swipe at the au courant philosophy of the era, Rationalism, which extolled reason--rather than observation, faith or emotion--as the guiding principle in life. Despite the gorgeous Italian locations and constantly roving camera, the movie can't help but betray its theatrical roots, but that doesn't prove to be a major problem. The silly plot and, at times, overly broad comedy get a bit wearing, but the film is worth seeing for Sorvino, who hasn't been this good since Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, a role that couldn't be more dissimilar.


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