Review: I, Tonya

How do I get a fair score?

This is the biography of US figure Skater Tonya Harding. (Margot Robbie) While breaking the 4th wall, we see her live with her abusive mother, LaVona (Allison Janney) and move on to her abusive ex-husband, Jeff. (Sebastian Stan) All while trying to advance in the skating world when she doesn't necessarily fit in.

I, Tonya has perfect pacing. We start with Tonya at age four and move on until she's in her 20's, with all the buzzy parts of her live captured with ample time. We instantly get attached to her as the underdog. It's almost shot documentary style with the characters constantly narrating. At times, they turn towards us right in the middle of the story to address us. It's a risky gimmick but it pays off well.

Margot Robbie is absolutely amazing in this role. The gravity she brings to it is exceptional. Sebastian Stan also gives one of the best performances I've seen from him. He's an actor that's been growing on me. Allison Janney is also excellent in her role, but it's not nearly the stretch I was expecting after she's been winning all these awards. She barely needed to lift a finger to turn out this performance.

If I have one problem with I, Tonya - it's the way they're treating their real life subject. While Tonya was a victim of abuse, she also took part in harming someone she called a friend. This film not only plays her abuse for laughs at times, but actually puts the blame on the entire audience as her abusers. I'm sure that was meant to be a powerful statement but I saw it as glorifying her. It's as if they've absolved her of everything. I just found it a bit patronizing. 

While that's harsh, it's not enough to distract from the excellent film making here. It's great all around.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Fucking Mustache..." - LaVona (Allison Janney)

16 comments:

  1. Great review! I didn't think the film's intentions were to act like she was absolved from everything; I honestly found it to portray her pretty fairly...but that's just me. This movie easily made it into my top 5 for the year; definitely the most entertaining movie I saw all year!

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    1. I felt that way up until the "you are all my abusers" line, then it was just like "whoa, that got preachy." I'll definitely watch this again.

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  2. I had a ball watching this and having seen a 30 for 30 on Tonya Harding I think a year ago or 2, I felt sympathetic towards her and even watching this film. I still feel sympathetic towards her as she at least came off as a real person unlike Nancy Kerrigan who turned out to be a real bitch.

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    1. I don't think Nancy Kerrigan is a bitch. I think she got caught in a really awkward moment after the Olympics, but she seemed to carry herself well after that.

      I'd be pissy too if someone tried to break my leg. lol

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  3. I sort of felt she had a point to call us her attackers because back in the day. She was the punchlines of many jokes and I went along with the hate train like everyone else back than. I love this movie so much I want to see it again

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    1. I've heard that, I was really young when this happened so I never heard Tonya jokes. I was vaguely aware of what she did but it was never a constant thing like say, OJ.

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  4. I'm with you on Allison Janney. She gives a good performance but I think I've seen better ones from her. I was prepared to be amazed by her due to all the awards she's been winning.

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  5. I'm so glad you liked it! I thought that they did a good job when it comes to her involvement in the incident. They did show her to be very tricky and avoiding the questions etc. By the end of the movie I wasn't sure if she knew or didn't knew about this being more than threatening letters

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    1. Same. and we'll probably never know the truth. I'm glad I liked it too lol

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  6. I really liked this one, but there was just something missing for me. And I'm so glad you feel the same about Janney as I do. It's just like any other performance she's ever given. Great, but nothing particularly surprising or exciting. Robbie is great, but I'm still pulling for Saoirse for the Oscar.

    I actually liked the "you are my abusers" but, but I wish they had leaned into that more throughout the movie if they were going to make it the big ending.

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    1. I'm always pulling for Saoirse too. She's extraordinary.

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  7. The editing is so great. So great!

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  8. I agree, the whole abuse theme in the movie was a bit odd. Even though I did enjoy watching this and Margot's performance was the best, I don't know how I feel about it after the real Tonya said she did know what was going to happen to Nancy.

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    1. I find it hard to have a lot of sympathy for Tonya in that regard, tbh.

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