I, Tonya (2018) – Review

Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan, Paul Walter Hauser

The Overview
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding (Robbie) rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband (Stan) intervenes. (Source: IMDb)

The Review
Margot Robbie’s career has seemingly gone from strength to strength. Starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and of course playing DC bombshell Harley Quinn in the ill-fated Suicide Squad (2016), and now finally at leading lady status in the loosely-true-story I, Tonya. Garnering awards attention along the way, Robbie’s performance as the controversial figure skater, is easily a career best and fully shows off the range of her talents. Tonya is simultaneously unlikable, brash, charming, and pitiful, and Robbie does an incredible job of bringing this all together.

Indeed, the performances throughout are flawless. Sebastian Stan, as the villain of the piece, is a real scumbag and it is great to see him try something different in a role such as this. The MVP is Allison Janney however, and there is no doubt that following her BAFTA, Golden Globes, and SAG success, she will soon have a Supporting Actress Oscar to add to her collection. Her performance is so fantastic, and in the flickers of humanity underneath the hard exterior, she truly shines. Her mother-daughter dynamic with Margot Robbie is flawed in nature, but flawless in its execution.

With its caveat at the beginning hinting that the film does perhaps veer away from the truth, the result is a film which is consistently entertaining, more than pandering to the crazy nature of the story, and employing filming and narrative techniques to suit this. It is deliberately schlocky, unpolished, and trashy, but this is more than in-keeping with the nature of the story. It is a film which, like Tonya herself, breaks the rules and the boundaries and gives you one hell of a ride along the way. 

Craig Gillespie’s direction in the skating sequences in particular are fantastic; transitioning from close-ups of Robbie before rapidly zooming out to show the full scale of the routines. At times, the effects are a little flawed and it is painfully obvious when it is a body double, but Gillespie’s direction does its best to account for this, and the fact that it feels a little frantic, perhaps goes in its favour.

The Verdict
I saw this movie and you should too.
To pick a fault it would be that it is perhaps about 20 minutes too long, but it is never not entertaining, and Margot Robbie’s performance deserves “6.0” scores across the board! I, Tonya is trashy entertainment and it knows it, but the performances more than elevate this, and make it totally worth your time. I, Tonya lands the triple axel, perfectly!


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