I, Tonya Movie Review
Sometimes a movie comes along, looks at the formula to win critical praise and shiny golden statues and says fuck it. In I, Tonya, Margot Robbie goes “ugly” and bitchslaps you in the face - and knee - to give one of the better performances of the year in a movie that is delightfully off kilter. And off color.
From Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours), I, Tonya is a comedy-drama about the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident (in which the Olympic ice skater’s ex-husband had her primary competitor whacked in the knee to presumably take her out of the equation). It’s something even the Russian federation wouldn’t think of (they prefer to use radioactive poison, anyway).
I, Tonya revels in its give-zero-fucks attitude and blue collar atmosphere, refusing to kowtow (or salchow) to convention, alternating between genres and tones, repeatedly breaking the fourth wall, and doing whatever else is necessary to bring to life this weird-but-mostly-true story about a woman who has made more than a few bad decisions in her life, but perhaps isn’t quite the villain she’s known to be.
Robbie is fantastic as Harding, the beautiful actress immersing herself in the role with altered voice, appearance and attitude in a way that few could pull off convincingly. An Oscar nomination could be in her future, deservingly so.
She’s all surrounded by a great supporting cast, including Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney and Paul Walter Hauser, who is easily given the most hilarious and pathetic of characters of the bunch.
The movie itself is highly entertaining, perhaps rarely laugh-out-loud funny but amusing and charming throughout. In a colorful, grimy, blue collar kind of way, that is. Despite much buzz, the movie doesn’t quite obtain the giddy mastery it’s skating for, but I, Tonya is still one of the better movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.