I, Tonya tells the story of US olympic ice skater Tonya Harding and her life, and the build up to the famous incident with Nancy Kerrigan. As this all happened in 1994, when I was a 1-year-old boy, I do not remember it happening but I believe it was quite a big news story at the time.
As someone who had little knowledge of her story, I have to say i found myself hooked on this film from early on, with a very interesting storytelling style that really lent itself to keeping the viewer engaged. Switching back and forth between interviews and the events they are discussing proved to be a very entertaining way to view this specific story and credit has to go to the Director Craig Gillespie for that.
Allison Janney plays LaVona (Tonya Harding’s Mother), and immediately stands out from early in the film as an entertaining but deeply flawed person. Despite playing such a despicable character, and this film really does portray her as that, you can’t help but enjoy the way Janney plays the character. Straight away this highlights the biggest strength of this film, the performances.
Janney is in good company in playing the supporting roles, alongside Winter Soldier actor Sebastian Stan as Tonya’s first husband Jeff and Paul Walter Hauser as the ignoramus bodyguard Shawn. They all do great work, Janney in particular shining and deserving that oscar nomination for her supporting role, but there is no doubt who the star of this film is. Margot Robbie proves beyond any doubt (If there was any) that she is much more than just a pretty face.
Margot carries this film with so much charm, intelligence and drive that you can’t take your eyes off her performance. Whether she’s dancing around an ice rink, arguing with her mother, or crying in the mirror putting on her make up, the film contains several scenes that give her the opportunity to shine, and she takes every one of them. I haven’t seen every performance this year, but from what I have seen she has to be favourite to pick up a statue for best actress this weekend at the Oscars. Take nothing away from Sally Hawkins and Frances McDormand in their films this year, but nothing has come close to this performance for me except Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, and even he is second best in my mind.
I, Tonya moves along at quite a speed for the most part, and teases you through the first act with hints at what we know is coming later in the film. Once we get to the “Incident” the film slows a little, and it does seem to go in circles for a brief period where you are waiting for the next event to move the story along. Other than that the only other minor gripes I had with the film is that we are asked to buy Sebastian Stan and Margot Robbie as 15 year olds, and there is one particular moment when a heavy metal song is playing and it was a complete mismatch to the scene and took me out of the film for a second.
The film is thoroughly entertaining, funny, informing, and by the end of the film, emotionally taxing. You will feel for Tonya Harding despite the film acknowledging her flaws. It paints a vivid picture of a person with a very specific goal, to be an olympic gold medalist in ice skating, and how the circumstances she found herself in affected that goal.
Good – Every performance in this film is great, with Margot Robbie showing she’s among the best actresses in hollywood today. Also has some great comedic moments, and tells its story brilliantly. It was also written by a guy named Steve Rogers, and stars Bucky Barnes, a bit of trivia for you comic book fans to appreciate.
Bad – That Heavy metal song, and Knee Injuries. I have one at the moment, so it’s a particularly sore spot for me.
9/10 – I, Margot Robbie, Shall win an oscar this year.