I, Tonya: Movie Review

Updated on January 23, 2018
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

I, Tonya
I, Tonya | Source

As Mark Twain’s old saying goes, “Humor is tragedy plus time.” Sure enough, in the early months of 1994, the headlines were far from humorous--a star figure skater was violently attacked after a practice session, and her rival was accused of being as at least causally involved. Almost 25 years later, though, a feature film about the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding “incident” is one of the funnier (though darkly, darkly funny) films of the year.

I, Tonya is a complete blast, and though you may find yourself cringing, both at the subject matter and the fact that you’re laughing so hard, it’s worth every single second. Margot Robbie turns in an absolutely fantastic performance as Harding, serving as the co-emcee for the duration of the movie, along with Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s ex-husband and co-conspirator (depending who you believe, that is); the movie opens by saying it’s “based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews” with the two of them.

We get our first glimpse of Harding at age four, as her garbage-mouthed, violently domineering mother LaVona (a spectacular Allison Janney) takes her to the local rink and practically horse-collars the local coach into training young Tonya. Sure enough, the little girl has talent, and it’s not long before she’s lighting up the skating circuit.

We’re along for the ride every step of the way, from when she first meets Gillooly as a teenager to the abuse she suffers, first at the hands of her mother and then from of Gillooly, all the way though the utterly mind-boggling idiocy of the lead-up to the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer.

Screenwriter Steven Rogers (Love the Coopers) actually interviewed both Harding and Gillooly, and, when he heard their drastically differing accounts, decided to present both sides and let the audience decide for themselves which (if either) was more believable. And director Craig Gillespie (The Finest Hours) takes the nut-job shenanigans and runs with them, breaking the fourth wall, cleverly interspersing the first-person interview clips, actual news footage, and the dramatized events—which are simultaneously completely unbelievable and just crazy enough to make you say, “Yeah, I can see that happening”. It’s a brilliantly eclectic film and one of the more captivating, clever ones of the year.

Robbie, who did much of her own skating, carries the movie, deftly walking the line between portraying Harding as a victim and an instigator; it’s a watershed moment in the her relatively young career (she has less than a dozen films under her belt), proving that she belongs in the same room as the best actors at work today. Janney, likewise, fires on all cylinders in what she called one of the most challenging roles she’s taken on. If the Academy handed out an award for Best Villain, she’d win it walking away; as it is, she’s pretty much a lock for Best Supporting Actress, having already taken the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.

It may not be too terribly pretty to watch, but there’s no doubting that I, Tonya is a fascinating glimpse into a little tidbit of history that most people would have no problem forgetting or never talking about again. What the key (real-life) players lack, as far as anything resembling a redeeming quality, the people involved in the film more than make up for. Gillespie, Rogers, and the across-the-board stellar cast have made a masterpiece out of a mudpit.

Rating

5/5 stars

'I, Tonya' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)