I, Tonya (2017)

i tonya 2017 movie poster margot robbie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great cast

Could have pushed it even farther with more stylized storytelling with real news clips

Movie Info

Movie Name:   I, Tonya

Studio:   LuckyChap Entertainment

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):   September 8, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)/December 8, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

i tonya margot robbie pre-olympics

Paint on your smile…put it all behind you!

Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) doesn’t like to play other peoples games. Pushed into figure skating by her mother (Allison Janney) and sheer talent, Tonya just doesn’t fit the figure skater mold that everyone wants to see. Daughter of a chain-smoking mother, a missing father, and herself a teen high school dropout bride, Tonya still manages to skate her way to the top. With time running out, Tonya’s Olympics in Lillehammer could be her last shot to prove herself, but “the incident” orchestrated by her husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and Tonya’s “bodyguard” Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) could change everything.

Directed by Craig Gillespie, I, Tonya is a comedy drama biopic. The screenplay was based on interviews with Tony and Jeff Gillooly and others involved in the story. The film was released to critical praise and received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Alison Janney) with nominations for Best Actress (Margot Robbie) and Best Film Editing.

I remember a lot of the whole Tonya Harding—Nancy Kerrigan scandal. Not having cable, we always watched a lot of Olympics when it was on…plus avid Hard Copy watching which dominated the coverage of the “feud”. It was interesting to get a fresh take on the event and remember events as they played out on the screen.

i tonya allison janney parakeet oxygen

I only love my parakeet

The movie kind of seems to have the goal of vindicating Tonya Harding. It does this while never really clearing stating what she knew and when she knew it. It paints her as someone who suffered years of abuse from her mother and her husband and used skating not only as an escape, but also as the only thing at which she was truly exceptional. It is a tricky balance to tell the story with the abuse and humor and features a lot of bumbling, over-the-top characters that are amazingly not that far from the real people.

Margot Robbie continues to impress as she develops as an actress. She can get away with fun roles like Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad but manages to pull off more serious roles as well (while still keeping the fun…she’s becoming the master of talking to the camera). She’s paired smartly with Allison Janney who is able to play the tight mother of Harding without giving away if there is any true love for her daughter. Sebastian Stan plays the bad facial hair Jeff Gillooly and Paul Walter Hauser is the scene stealing Shawn Eckhardt (who is scarily accurate). Bobby Cannavale plays the Hard Copy producer, and Caitlin Carver has a small part as the Nancy Kerrigan stand-in.

i tonya shawn eckhardt paul walter hauser bodyguard

You think this guy is an exaggeration….it really isn’t that far off.

The movie is edited slickly. It combines a good soundtrack catered to the Harding character combined with different footage formats which shows the film. I wish that the movie had taken more of an approach of American Splendor which actually dipped in and out of the real “characters” of the movie during the movie, but clips at the end of the film show the accuracy of the actors’ portrays.

I, Tonya is a fun film in the vein of Goodfellas or the The Wolf of Wall Street where a “true crime” story is told with a hint of humor that doesn’t vilify or vindicate the subject. Tonya Harding wasn’t what you expected out of an ice skater and in that sense, she was a nice change to the cliché waifish figure skating stars. She wanted her big break, and despite having some opportunities that most could not get, Tonya both blew it and/or never had a real chance…you decide.

Related Links:

The 90th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response