I, Tonya: Film Review

The types of famous celebrities that many people will have a tough time trusting again are athletes. One of the perfect examples of this is, of course, former figure skater Tonya Harding. I wasn’t born in 1994 with that whole “incident’ at the 1994 Olympics with Nancy Kerrigan, but it was known for tarnishing her career in the process. Didn’t know what to expect from this biopic since this could’ve played it seriously. As it turns out, the biopic I, Tonya is the fascinating movie surrounding around figure skating I ever have seen since Ice Princess 13 years ago (not kidding).

Plot: Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) rises through the ranks of competitive figure skating only to find disgrace when her husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) tries to eliminate her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.

Sebastian Stan and Margot Robbie in I, Tonya (2017)

Robbie’s performance is the best of her career. I mean, I already thought she was beautiful and talented ever since her breakout role in The Wolf of Wall Street, but even with the makeup to look closely like her counterpart, it’s still a great role for herself. Although she doesn’t look that much like Harding, she still commits to this role wholeheartedly. Because of the way she portrays her, she actually you feel for Harding and making us empathize her in a way that’s completely unexpected. I really hope she gets her first Oscar nomination coming her way.

With word that Allison Janney is a possible frontrunner for an Oscar, it had to be true here. She plays Tonya’s abusive, chain-smoking mother LaVona Fay Golden, she’s really the type of mother nobody wants to have because of all the physical and verbal abuse from her. She wants her daughter to be the best with this skill, and couldn’t give less of a crap about her. Janney’s performance was outstanding as she steals every scene he’s in hands down. Can we say it’s a lock for Best Supporting Actress? It’s really a tough race between her and Laurie Metcalf from Lady Bird.

Allison Janney in I, Tonya (2017)

Stan as Jeff Gillooly, Tonya’s ex-husband, treats her the same way her mother does. But he was very good in his role as both he and Robbie had excellent chemistry. Just as the film kept going, it’s well realized he’s basically an idiot in this just like her bodyguard and Jeff’s friend Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser), who had a lot of laughs because of the dumb things he said.

Also got to give props to the soundtrack because this has some classic hits that are my type of music.

This true story doesn’t just go through the controversy that was going on in 1994 with her and the Nancy Kerrigan “incident”, it’s mainly about the journey that’s been a problematic process. All she wanted to do with her life is to skate. But there’s a fork in the road that leads her to these difficulties that come her way. They also took the mockumentary style in this with interviews with Harding and Gillooly in the future, adding to the already hilarious fashion while also breaking the fourth wall in a few scenes.

Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night) and writer Steven Rogers (Stepmom) carefully balanced with humor and drama rightfully so in a way that doesn’t contradict the overall tone of the movie (take a lesson Pain & Gain). It didn’t go out the way to make Harding the good guy or make the hard moments from her past happy ones, but it’s fairly done well enough to justify that idea. And the skating sequences are very well-handled and quite exciting just watching Harding perform those triple axels and if you had to have a song while performing a routine, ZZ Top’s the best choice.

Margot Robbie in I, Tonya (2017)

As for flaws, this was a little long towards the end, but other than that, this was a blast.

We’re in that time where re-telling stories from the 90s seem to be popular all of a sudden. Which isn’t a problem, unless doesn’t take itself too seriously. Strong direction, well-done screenplay, and all the performances were top notch in a film that should be enjoyable for everybody. This also makes me want to watch the figure skating portions when the Olympics are on. The downside to this is that Harding will still be hated after this comes out. Perfect scores across the board for I, Tonya.

I, Tonya is the type of dark comedy that fits perfectly with this story of Tonya Harding adding some sympathy to her. Brilliant writing, sometimes unexpectedly emotional and an Oscar-worthy performance from Margot Robbie.  

Grade: A-



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