I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, Mckenna Grace
Seen on: 3.4.2018

Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) has trained all her life to become a figure skater, her mother Lavona (Allison Janney) always pushing her. But Tonya is seen as not refined enough by many people in the community. Nevertheless, Tonya manages to fight her way to some success. Her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan) wants to see Tonya succeed at least as much as she does. When Tonya’s competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Catilin Carver) is attacked, suspicions fall on Tonya and Jeff.

I, Tonya is a strong film that tells a jawdropping story and showcases, once again, Robbie’s talent. It is a little uneven, but most of the time, it works extremely well.

The film is basically a raucous tragicomedy which is a rare thing as tragicomedies tend to be softer in tone. Or at least, that’s my impression. It’s a mix that they pull off well, managing to be both laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking and knowing just wenn to rein in the irreverence they use for the former to achieve the honest emotionality of the latter.

That this works so well is in no small part due to Margot Robbie. I tend to forget with people who look so flawless that they aren’t necessarily hired for their looks alone and Robbie makes damn sure that we know that she can really act. Much as the title implies, her Tonya is the focus point of the film, but Robbie makes her more than that, she makes her the film’s heart and soul, turning it and her captivating.

Despite that the film doesn’t manage to stay that captivating all the way through. In several instances the point is made throughout the film that people usually focus on ‘the incident’ – the attack on Kerrigan – to the point of excluding everything else about Harding. Unfortunately the film seems to reproduce the same blinkered interest: after they reached ‘the incident’, it loses a lot of its steam and slows down considerably to the point where it becomes rather lengthy.

I do believe that those lengths could and should have been avoided. But even so, the film is engaging and well told for most of its duration. It may not be perfect, but it is really good.

Summarizing: Engaging.

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