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Review: I, Tonya

Margot Robbie stars in Neon's I, TONYA

The story of Tonya Harding and the life she has lived isn’t a pretty one no matter which angle you view it from. That’s one thing that makes a film about her life both easy and difficult to make at the same time. While they don’t touch on everything, the creators behind I, Tonya manage to blend many of the most relevant incidents and periods in her life together in order to give the audience the kind of film that we rarely get a chance to see.

First becoming relevant as an emerging force in figure skating in the early 90’s, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) eventually became recognized more from her controversies than her athletic skills. And if you go a little further into her past, you’ll see that the talented two-time Olympian’s infamy didn’t begin after the scandalous attack on Nancy Kerrigan. No, it started while being raised by her mother(Allison Janney) in Portland, Oregon, continued with her ex-husband (Sebastian Stan) and lasted for a number of years after her fading from the spotlight.

The people behind this decided to turn this story into something that’s presented in a comedic fashion. In doing so, I, Tonya becomes a film that includes the kind of subject matter that we normally wouldn’t want to laugh at. During its run time, we watch and react as the volatile relationships that filled up the life of the controversial figure skater take center stage. To take this stuff and actually make it funny seems like it would be weird, but it actually matches up with the image and persona of Tonya Harding herself.

I obviously can’t tell you how accurate all of what we see here actually is because the sources have different versions of how most of these things went down. In order to solve this, the filmmakers decided to mix all of the information together so it would fit. To accomplish this, they present parts of the movie as if they’re recording the actual people telling their version of these events. Handling it in this fashion allows for things to be a little muddled while not completely taking sides even though Harding is ultimately seen as more of a sympathetic figure than the media has ever portrayed.

Doing this makes the movie work as well since we’ll never get a true understanding of what happened through the years that are depicted here. It also makes the movie more intriguing to watch since you don’t have to simply accept what takes place as being 100 percent accurate in one way or another. All we know is that the main events being showcased did occur in some way, and it was a pretty tumultuous time for the people involved.

This won’t make a ton of money since it’s such a small production from newcomer in NEON Rated, but it could perceivably get a financial push if there are a few nominations thrown in its direction. And while I loved the film as a whole, the easiest category to choose from would be from one of the acting categories. Everyone here is great as they star as people with loads of personality. It’s one of those situations where you would probably have a lot of actors interested in these roles since they offer so much variety and quality.

While all of the actors are wonderful, the stand out is Allison Janney. From the looks of it, she took on a role that fit her spectacularly. She stars as Tonya Harding’s unforgivably brutal mother who probably wouldn’t be considered too kind or nurturing by anyone if you completely accept her portrayal in the movie. If she doesn’t get nominated for multiple awards, I would be shocked and would have to assume that people just didn’t watch the movie. There would really be no other reason why she’s not hovering around the various award nominations that are out there.

With everything that it includes, I, Tonya is a film that everyone should see whenever they get the opportunity. It’s easily one of 2017’s best films, and will likely provide you with a unique experience that we rarely receive in this time period. And as someone who appreciates unique experiences and understands the need for quality, substance and skill, it’s important that movies like this are given an opportunity. Why? Because the more that happens, the more it will likely encourage the people behind the scenes to take more chances on good films that happen to be different.

Rating: R

Director: Craig Gillespie

Margot Robbie
Sebastian Stan
Allison Janney
Caitlyn Carver
Paul Walter Hauser
Julianne Nicholson
McKenna Grace

Film Length: 121 minutes

Release Dates:
December 8, 2017 (Limited)
December 22, 2017 (Wide)

Distributor: NEON Rated

  • Score - 8/10
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