Starring Margot Robbie and Allison Janny, I, Tonya is a biopic about the life of former ice skater, Tanya Harding and, of course, the events leading up to and surrounding the 1994 attack on her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, as told from Harding’s perspective. Billed as a biography, comedy, drama, this movie is a dark comedy that hits many notes.
Robbie does an outstanding job as Tonya, and even manages to makes you feel sorry for her, at times, despite the fact that Kerrigan was/is the victim here. Harding’s tough and hostile mother, poor upbringing, deferred dreams, anger issues, and the physical abuse in her marriage, all make you feel for the poor little talented girl who seemed to be on the cusp of greatness, only to have it slip away, over and over – culminating in the final defeat when Harding was stripped of her U.S. title and banned from the sport for life following the attack on Kerrigan. Tonya still contends to this day that she had no knowledge beforehand of the attack, but as someone who remembers that attack very well, as entertaining as Harding’s account of the story may be, I can tell you – nobody bought that story then and nobody is buying it now girl. At least, not I. Regardless of what Tonya knew, she was a fine ice skater and the first American woman to complete a triple axel in an international competition. Robbie earned her Oscar nomination just by virtue of the fact that she learned how to ice skate well enough to emulate a championship skater in three months time. That is dedication to one’s craft!
Allison Janny is so amusing in this role. The wig, those clothes, the glasses – all create this monster mom persona that no matter how serious she was, I couldn’t help but laugh at the things she did and said. Even when the movie gets heavy, Janny is there for some serious-type comic relief in otherwise unfunny situations. With all her shortcomings, Tonya’s mother at least acknowledged her daughter’s talent at an early age and pushed for her to succeed by any means she could. A bit less perfect than most far-from-perfect parents, it seemed she did the best she could with what she knew at the time. She is absolutely the star of the show.
The script, by Steven Rogers, is well written. The story held my interest all the way through the movie as it reveals many things about Tonya Harding I never knew. It just goes to show, you never know what anyone is going through. Tonya had all of this chaos in her life, but managed to skate like an angel. On the surface, you would never have guessed all that was going on behind the scenes. While the story didn’t make me particularly sympathetic toward Tonya, it did manage to humanize her after being looked at as some sort of evil monster for so many years, at the very least.
The hair, makeup, styling/wardrobe and set design, all help to give this movie a mockumentary feel and lend to the comedy and the drama. Tatiana S. Regal‘s editing of Robbie skating is phenomenal. You would think she really completed a triple axel, when we all know she didn’t!
I, Tonya earned 8 out of 10 bloops. It’s got humor, drama, conflict and moments of triumph and failure. It is well acted, shot, styled, edited and directed. The biography, comedy and drama are interwoven in a smart and entertaining way, making I,Tonya a great movie that is worth seeing.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
A Wrinkle In Time – I’ve not read the book and was debating whether to do so before seeing the movie. I’m going to pass and see if this movie is good enough to make me want to read the book. I read Girl on the Train before seeing the movie and it totally ruined for me. Yes. I know. The book is usually better than the movie, but I want my mind to be clear to critique the movie on its own merits, not how closely it followed the book, or picking over what was added or left out. So that’s how I’m going to play it. I didn’t get to see it in previews, so that will be up Friday.
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro