Tonya Harding isn't so much famous as she is infamous and I, Tonya is a biopic that's as bold and bruising as Harding herself. Prepare for a cutting-edge movie that walks a tightrope by presenting a conflicting narrative from multiple perspectives. The story roars with laughs and stings with drama that doesn't pull any punches with its cunning portrayal of the motley cast of characters.
For those who don't know, Tonya Harding earned countless medals for her stunning figure skating routines and is also the only figure skater to land the triple axle at the Olympics. For all of Harding's dazzling moves on the ice, her life outside of the skating rink was just as controversial, if not more so.
The movie volleys back and forth between performances culled from candid (and recent) interviews with Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). After her ex-husband tries to protect Tanya and her reputation as a wild child, they get boiled into a scandal after her competitor Nancy Carrigan gets her knee bashed in. After that, Harding and Gillooly have to tango with small-time criminals for hire, the savage pageantry of the figure skating world and even the FBI.
Margot Robbie is nothing short of fearless in her performance as Harding, who proves she is as gritty as she is versatile. Robbie also manages to be tender enough to create pathos for someone as rough around the edges as Harding. Robbie proves that Harding is a figure America loved to hate, but tries to transform her into someone we hate to love. Allison Janney plays Harding's ruthless mother LaVona and her performance is nothing short of astounding. It shouldn't shock anyone that Janney took home the BAFTA and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress this year for this performance, while remaining a heavy contender at the Oscars.
Steven Rogers carved out a script full of spectacular one-liners ("You know what fourth place at the Olympics gets you? The 6am shift at Spud City."). The laughs hit as hard as the drama, as he presents things from both Harding and Gillooly's points of view. The magic is that audiences end up with a film where YOU get to decide who's the hero and who's the villain.
In the end, I, Tonya is about as subtle as a spiked-bat, for better and for worse. It's an endearing story about the power of die-hard determination, and the strength it takes to create your own identity while the world tries to put you in your place.
This will make your fighting spirit soar, especially if you're looking for a shot on the shoulder to remind you of the power it takes to truly be yourself in a world that will relentlessly try to grind you into nothing.
Directed by: Craig Gillespie Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale Distributed by: Neon Release Date: December 8, 2017 (United States) Run Time: 119 minutes