Based on the unbelievable, but true events, I, TONYA is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as her impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, and a tour-de-force performance from Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden, Craig Gillespie’s I, TONYA is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked–– and checkered––glory.
I, Tonya is the crazy, but true story of the famed figure skater Tonya Harding who is played brilliantly by Margot Robbie. This story is told in a bit of an unorthodox way that can really make it stand out from other films that are dealing with real life subject matter. Most of the time it feels like you’re watching a really well thought out documentary. Director Craig Gillespie is able to handle this fairly familiar subject matter of a true story in a way that makes it fresh and exciting.
Part of what makes this movie feel so fresh, is the truly phenomenal performances across the board. Allison Janney is the main scene stealer as Harding’s foul mouthed mother. Sebastian Stan is also terrific as her ex-husband. Margot Robbie is the real star of the film though as she shines from beginning to end. This rivals her performance as Harley Quinn for the best in her career. This story provides for some very explosive character work, and everyone in the cast delivers and then some.
What I, Tonya does so well is being able to walk a fine line between being an outrageous comedy, but also is able to be heartfelt and moving at the same time. Three Billboards and The Disaster Artist have also been very successful doing this in 2017. This movie is brilliantly written, as some of it is told through narration which doesn’t feel like it is being too informal, but rather letting you see things as the characters do. It also never feels like it is making fun of its characters (save for maybe one person) although they do some crazy things that would make you question their sanity.
If I had one issue with I, Tonya it’s that the film can feel a bit choppy. It is told through a series of interviews and sometimes it is hard to tell if you’re watching from character’s perspective or from the point of view of a bystander. Other than that I thought the way that this story was told, was one of its best qualities making it a fresh and unique time.
There really hasn’t been many character pieces of this caliber so far this year, and Craig Gillespie directs this movie with lot of style, while not straying far from substance. I’m excited to see what he does next. This is really fun and emotionally hitting movie. I, Tonya is a total blast, don’t miss it.