Weekly Review: I, Tonya (2017)

“I was loved for a minute, then I was hated. Then, I was just a punch line.”

Competitive figure skater Tonya Harding rises in the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future is thrown in jeopardy when her ex-husband intervenes.

I, Tonya is a 2017 dark comedy about the rise and fall of infamous figure skater Tonya Harding. The real life incident between Harding and fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is one of the most notorious scandals in sports history. For this reason, the idea of this film caused a bit of strife amongst viewers when it was announced. Nearly 30 years after the event, it’s still a sore subject with contested opinions about Harding’s involvement.

This film is directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl). It stars Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Allison Janney (Juno). It also features roles played by Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man), Julianne Nicholson (Black Mass), Paul Walter Hauser (Kingdom), Bojana Novakovic (Devil), and Caitlin Carver (Paper Towns).

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 10.11.37 PM

I’m a huge fan of Margot Robbie, so this film has been on my radar for a while. When you add in that I’m a huge fan of figure skating too, there was no doubt that I was going to see this. I was interested to see how my knowledge of “the incident” would coincide with the events depicted in the film.

After watching it, I do have to say that I enjoyed it. I’m not sure how I feel that I enjoyed it for various reasons, but I did enjoy it. I’ve actually seen it twice during the short period of time that I had a copy in my possession.

This film is very interesting, particularly due to its style. It’s formatted like a documentary, or a mock-umentary I guess. There are contradicting “interviews” placed throughout the story. The characters break the 4th wall on multiple occasions. It reminded me of Deadpool in many ways.

I thought that this was very effective, simply because of the still disputed event that everyone was watching this film and hoping to see. The character of Tonya Harding says it best herself, “It’s what you all came for folks. The f***ing incident!”

The dark comedy aspect for this portion of the film worked out well, I thought. I think enough time has passed, and enough people have moved on, that we can look at it like this. It set the tone for the rest of the film. I found it entertaining. I enjoyed it.

The aspect of this film that gives me mixed feelings is how the dark comedy approaches domestic abuse. There are some brutally realistic scenes of violence in this film, coming from a parent and from a spouse. The film sets these scenes up in a comedic way, but they’re really horrifying. They’re tragic.

I didn’t feel like those acts of violence should have been laughed at, so there were several points in the film where I felt uncomfortable. This is the biggest reason why I’m not sure how I feel about enjoying this film.

A lot of my enjoyment here might come from Margot Robbie’s performance. There are a lot of great moments for her in this. Her scene in the courtroom made me tear up, same with the solo scene of her applying make up before a performance. I’m just a huge fan of Margot Robbie. I can’t help myself.

Allison Janney also does a pretty great job here. Her performance was so solid that I really believed she was that mean. I forgot all other roles I had seen her in where she wasn’t mean. She was absolutely ridiculous in the best way. She definitely deserved that Oscar nomination.

Overall, I enjoyed I, Tonya. I found it really engaging. I was entertained throughout. If you’re in the mood for an Oscar nominated film that takes a different approach, then you might want to give this one a shot.

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