Friday, January 12, 2018

I, Tonya

I, Tonya is a compelling, if flawed, look at the life and career of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) memorable mostly for the terrific performances of Robbie and co-star Allison Janney (as Tonya's mother). Framed as flashbacks told through a series of current interviews (which were actually shot as reference for the script) we watch a young Tonya struggle with acceptance in ice skating despite her obvious talent, her troubled relationships with her mother and husband (Sebastian Stan), and the events leading up to the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver).

While a bit too apologetic of Harding in an attempt to allow audiences to see her as the victim of circumstance she believes herself to be, writer Steven Rogers embraces the trashy tabloid nature of the the entire sordid affair going so far as to include Bobby Cannavale as a Hard Copy producer. Director Craig Gillespie's film isn't without its missteps including Robbie taking over the role of Tonya at 13 (seriously, was I the only one thinking of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story at this point?) and some awkward CGI that doesn't always properly fit Robbie's face to her stunt double on the ice.

Despite such occasionally distracting flaws I, Tonya works by embracing the seedier nature of its source material and celebrating its protagonist, warts and all. Given our series of all equally unreliable narrators in Tonya, her mother, her husband, and perhaps the most ridiculous character of all Shawn Eckardt (Paul Walter Hauser), it's obvious we are seeing events and recollections framed through a decidedly skewed lens. For those familiar with the story, I, Tonya doesn't offer much in the way of new insight into the tragic life of the ice princess. Even if the film, like Tonya herself, may not be able to take home a gold medal, it certainly earns its time in the spotlight.

No comments: