“I, Tonya” stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, and Bobby Cannavale. Released on December 8, 2017, the film chronicles the life of figure skater Tonya Harding.
The film is directed by Craig Gillespie, who also directed films such as Mr. Woodcock, Lars and the Real Girl, Million Dollar Arm, and The Finest Hours. While not a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars, the film earned some nominations for the two main actresses, Robbie and Janney, as well as for editing. This film sees Gillespie’s latest attempt at the biographical sports genre after directing Million Dollar Arm for Disney back in 2014. For those who don’t know, Tonya Harding is a former figure skater who was involved in an orchestrated attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in January 1994. As a result, she was banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association for life. A story worth telling on the big screen, ladies and gentlemen. I was born a month after the incident happened, so I didn’t remember that much about it until I found out about the film online. It is receiving plenty of praise from critics since its release, mostly due to the performances from Robbie and Janney. Now that I finally saw it for the first time, how does it stack up compared to Gillespie’s other works?
From her rough childhood to the 1994 incident that ruined her skating career, the film depicts the harsh and heartbreaking events of Tonya Harding (Robbie), on and off the skating rink. This is one of those biographical films that immediately convinces people that life is not all sunshine and rainbows. It really wants you to know that Tonya’s life is a living nightmare that just won’t end. This is a near-perfect representation of that life that delivers a unique blend of drama and sarcasm. It’s not too depressing for the modern audience, but it’s not too mean-spirited either. Margot Robbie was a sight to behold as Tonya. I would even say that this is one of my favorite performances from her so far. She was able to channel a person that has been through a lot when she was growing up, especially her experience with her abusive mother, played by Janney. Speaking of which, I can definitely see why Janney won a few awards for her performance. She’s stern, cruel, and just plain unbearable in a more compelling way, almost similar to how Frances McDormand performed in Three Billboards. Sebastian Stan was also really good as Jeff Gillooly, but my God, he is just a butthole. It’s no wonder Tonya had a miserable life. She’s surrounded by a bunch of brainless imbeciles. Gillespie’s direction and the film’s soundtrack were also marvelous for embracing the film’s era as well as offering some bizarre and sarcastic moments without feeling forced or unnecessary.
Overall, “I, Tonya” is both offbeat and tragic. Two words that blend wonderfully together like peanut butter and jelly. Thanks to its strong performances from the cast, brilliant direction, and its high respect towards the subject matter, this is by far Greg Gillespie’s best work in his career as well as one of the most investing sports biopics of the decade, from my personal perspective. If you’re a fan of sports biopics or you just like Margot Robbie in general, it’s worth checking out if it’s playing at a theater near you.