This biopic uses the format of a faux documentary to trace the rise and scandal-fueled fall of figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie). Pushed into skating by her domineering mother (Allison Janney), Harding finds great success, yet ends up clashing with the sport's desire to mold its female athletes into an image of wholesomeness. Later, her career comes crashing down when her ex-husband (Sebastian Stan) orchestrates an attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl).~Jack Rodgers
Australian Margot Robbie not only has had a prolific acting career in various media from Australian television soap operas and independent films to American TV dramas and motion pictures (the most important of which was Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”), and as a producer, she has launched her own production company named LuckyChap Entertainment. She has also been involved in commercial endorsements, being the face of Calvin Klein’s “Deep Euphoria” perfume and a BladeGlider driver for Nissan electric vehicles. Her fame has been such that last year Robbie was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. After acting in various films from “Focus”, “The Legend of Tarzan” to “Suicide Squad”, Margot Robbie has finally nabbed her most important role: playing infamous Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding in Craig Gillespie’s iconoclastic biographical comedy, “I, Tonya” -- and she infuses the part with utmost skill and commitment as well as mastery in the art of acting. And the film itself is a near-masterpiece, and one of the most entertaining films of 2017.
“I, Tonya”, a portrait of infamous Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding, is one of 2017’s most entertaining films. Directed by Craig Gillespie, it is an iconoclastic biographical comedy that is a brilliant mix of mockumentary-style film clips and interviews interspersed with dramatic sequences, figure skating scenes, and humorous moments in which the actors break the fourth wall and talk to the audience.
The acting is incredible. Australian Margot Robbie has finally nabbed her most important role playing Harding masterfully, but it might be Allison Janney as Harding’s sadistic, abusive mother LaVona that might be burned into your memory the most. Real-life villains this memorably heartless are rare for seasoned actors to find. I daresay one look at a photo of Janney in the part with her steely crow’s eyes staring through cycloid eyeglasses, oxygen tubes in her nose, short choppy boyish hair, and wearing a seedy old fur with a grumpy parrot perched on her shoulder, and you’ll never forget her.
Beautifully scripted as well as directed, the key to the film’s success might be its editing that superbly forms a cohesive biographical portrait allowing us deep into Tonya Harding’s skin, something that might make one pause. Yet while the film is fair in portraying her flaws, it takes no cheap shots, and shows admiration for her tenacity and skill.
Don’t miss this.