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  • rockman1827 December 2017
    I think this film may have had the best trailer of 2017. I saw it and knew instantly how badly I wanted to see it. I've never been a fan of Margot Robbie and her previous acting efforts but this looked like her awakening and where she would be proving me wrong. I believe it, she's quite sensational in this film. Her dedication to her role shows but really everyone involved has done very well. Craig Gillespie has his first real winner with I, Tonya.

    I, Tonya is a biographical picture about famed and disgraced figure skater, Tonya Harding. Tonya was pushed onto the rink by her abusive mother at a very young age and despite the abuse becomes a very talented ice skater. The cycle of abuse continues with her abusive husband but she tries to bear through and succeed. Everyone seems to be against her but her talent is hard to deny. The film also goes into the famed attack on fellow ice skater Nancy Kerrigan and the aftermath of the incident.

    The film is sort of told from a mockumentary perspective as if key characters are being interviewed. The film also utilizes breaking the fourth wall where characters in a scene would talk to the audience. I thought this was interesting and separates itself from being a standard biopic and gives this film a real comedic depth. The soundtrack is catchy and literally every performance in this film makes for a very engaging time. I didn't even recognize the chameleon Bobby Cannavale until the credits rolled.

    Some wonder why the film was made but it kind of helps you identify with Tonya. She suffered physical and psychological abuse from both her foul mouthed mother and her rage filled husband. Her hands may not be completely clean in what happens to Nancy Kerrigan, but she is also just a victim of circumstances. Vastly talented, but just short of reaching her pinnacle due to outside factors and her image and attitude. The film isn't perfect but its vastly entertaining and could be giving Margot Robbie and Allison Janney Oscar nominations. I'm going to let this sink in and I'm sure its going to be something I go back to.

  • Man, I personally found this one to be an exceedingly uncomfortable watch.

    "I, Tonya" is cleverly filmed as a pseudo-documentary, featuring re-enactments of the real-life interviews of most of the participants in this true-life drama. I recently bitterly criticised some film critics for spoiling the story of Donald Crowhurst, the subject of the recent "The Mercy". But I was about to do exactly the same here, *assuming* that you all know the lurid tale of the rivalry between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan that led up to an 'event' in 1994 that shocked the world. And of course, many of you younger folk don't know: case in point my 26 year old son who I went to see this with, and who went into the story blissfully blind of the drama about to unfold. So I will try to keep this review spoiler-free.

    Playing Tonya from a (not very credible!) 15 years old to her mid-20's is Margot Robbie ("The Wolf of Wall Street", "Suicide Squad") in what is a BAFTA and Oscar nominated performance. And for good reason: the performance is raw, visceral and disturbing in reflecting a victim who still thinks everything at heart is her own fault.

    Also BAFTA and Oscar nominated is Allison Janney ("The Girl on the Train") as Tonya's obnoxious chain-smoking mother LaVona. Janney is truly terrifying as the mother who abuses her daughter both physically and mentally in a driven attempt to make her the best ice-skater in the world.

    Victims seem to attract abusers, and Tonya is surrounded by people who are just plain bad for her: notably her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan, "The Martian", "Captain America: Winter Soldier") and his slimy and pitifully self-deluded friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser). The end credits video footage of the real-life players show just how well these parts were cast.

    Why so uncomfortable to watch? There is a significant degree of domestic abuse featured in the film, both in terms of LaVona on her child and Jeff on his wife. This is something I abhor in general, having been brought up to believe it is never EVER acceptable to lay a hand on a woman. To have these cowardly individuals sensationalised in the movie I found to be really upsetting. I strongly feel, for this reason alone, that the film should have had an 18 certificate. Violence in film should be related to the context as well as the severity. (Note that this is in stark contrast to my comments of recent BBFC decisions to make "Phantom Thread" and "Lady Bird" 15-certificates when I believe they should have been 12A).

    The film is executed extremely well, with 4:3 framing for the staged interviews, and ice skating scenes that seamlessly cut between the professional clearly doing the stunts and Robbie (who must also be a half decent skater too). The soundtrack is nicely littered - "Guardians of the Galaxy" style - with classic hits of the early 90's.

    To think that this story actually unfolded in this way is nothing short of astounding... but it did! There is an astonishing video clip here (#spoilers) of the run up to, and the immediate aftermath of, the Kerrigan incident. I came out of the film with a deep feeling of sadness for Harding (at least, as portrayed) and utter disgust that the villains of this piece could be a) so cruel and out of control and b) so utterly stupid. These are individuals who really should have been sterilised to stop them polluting the gene pool any further.

    Written by Steven Rogers ("Stepmom") and directed by Australian Craig Gillespie, there is no doubting that this is a powerful film: played to an absolutely silent and gripped Saturday night cinema audience. And it has truly dynamite performances from Allison Janney and Margot Robbie. But be warned that you'll need a strong stomach to go and see it without being affected by it afterwards. It's a mental keeper.
  • Tonight I went to the opening night film at the Philadelphia Film Festival and it turned out to be "I, Tonya". I wasn't particularly thrilled about this, as I really didn't care much about seeing a biopic about Tonya Harding. In hindsight, I am glad I saw it as the film was exceptionally well directed and the acting was occasionally brilliant. In particular, Australian actress Margot Robbie was simply amazing as Harding—turning in the sort of performance that could mean an Oscar nomination. Likewise, Allison Janney was amazing as well…playing Tonya's incredibly despicable mother. You really have to respect the great job both of them did in the film…as well as Robbie's learning to skate well in order to make this movie.

    The film is about the life of Tonya Harding….yes, THAT Tonya Harding…the one who gained infamy for her part in the attack on rival ice skater Nancy Kerrigan back in 1994. My daughter was only a small child at the time of the attack and I told her nothing about Harding because I wanted to see her perspective on the story. Both of us left very impressed. However, I must put in a warning about the film. It is very violent….filled with intense and very realistic domestic violence…among the most realistic I have ever seen. With my background as a psychotherapist, this churned up a lot of memories for me and the film often had me in tears. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, then I strongly urge you to think twice before you see the picture…or at least see it with someone you love. Seeing Tonya being slugged, slapped and even shot was tough to watch. Interestingly, often the audience responded by laughing…an inappropriate but thoroughly understandable coping mechanism for such ugliness.

    Does the film excuse Harding's behaviors or paint her out to be a victim? Not really…and if it had, the film would have been a waste of time. What it does do is help you at least understand who she was and why she did what she did…as she was more than just an intense competitor who didn't come forward when she learned her husband and his friend had physically assaulted Tonya's competitor, Nancy Kerrigan. Overall, a fascinating look back to one of the most celebrated news stories of the 1990s….one that folks who are old fogies, like me, well remember!
  • Anyone who was old enough to be sucked in by the media circus that this scandal turned into should make it a point to take a look at this film, in my opinion.

    The media seemed much more about the sensationalism of it all than it was about maintaining the kind of objective balance that'd presume Tonya's innocence until evidence proved otherwise. But being honest, even if evidence came along that absolved Harding of any wrongdoing in the Kerrigan attack, how happy would the media have been to report it? Or would we have been to hear it? Because we've got to admit that, although it might not seem very nice, there was quite a bit of fun to be had during the couple months we spent focusing on this Hillbilly girl and her bumbling husband, right? Well with that in mind, what would the thought of her innocence have brought, other than damage to the narrative we were having such fun with? Regardless of where you stand in regards to her innocence, its only fair to acknowledge that her role had been laid out for her pretty much from the get-go. Kerrigan was its hero the moment she became the victim, could we have honestly entertained the notion that maybe Harding wasn't as much the villain as seemed to befit the story? How fun would that have been? Really?

    In the last couple months, the articles about this upcoming movie had comment sections riddled with people mostly bemoaning the current state of Hollywood. Not the scandals, but that it'd even stoop so low as to peddle this kind of white trash story. "White trash" came up repeatedly of course, and while comment sections generally aren't the place to find the best sampling of voices, I personally wasn't able to find a single comment that was anything other than damningly derivative of Hollywood and/or Tonya...certainly not one suggesting the possibility that maybe there was more to this story than what we already knew. But that was always a possibility, wasn't it? The telling of a side that we hadn't heard?

    After seeing the flick last night, I passed along my recommendation of it to a friend, commenting that Tonya Harding's guilt might have to be re-thought. In response, I got a chuckling, "Oh I have a hard time believing that!" Which, sure that has to be the prevailing opinion, I'd imagine. But why? Do we really and truly think that we have the kind of information on the subject that'd allow for the most objective, fact-based decision on it? Have many of us ever stopped long enough to have wondered whether or not we did? The line of questioning isn't likely to be met with much more than scoffs by those who've yet to view the movie, but they're questions that end up being well begged and something that the same people may find themselves unwittingly exploring afterward. I sure have been.

    In the meantime, this isn't just a great movie, but a great sports movie, detailing an ice skating prodigy who love for skating drove her life, and whose life ultimately served as a testament to just how influential a class system can be that many of us are barely cognizant of even existing. Based off interviews and testimony from the key players in the Kerrigan scandal, watching it brings a much needed sense of balance to the story and will likely leave you amazed at how easily the truth can be blurred when viewed through the lens of sensationalized media coverage.

    10/10, great movie that grabs you from its opening scene and will have you entranced throughout.
  • inikim2 January 2018
    Why relevant? Until I saw this movie, in my point of view Tonya Harding was a cheat and a lowlife and this was entirely based on the media coverage of the events in 1994. Having seen the movie I feel ashamed about how easily I judged her and I realised I have to be way more careful in forming my opinion about people.
  • If I could have voted online for the best movie that I saw at TIFF 2017 (the voting was limited to iPhone and Android users), it would have been for this film, which wound up second in the People's Choice award competition. Director Craig Gillespie has tackled a difficult subject brilliantly without removing the considerable number of warts from the main characters. This film should garner a considerable number of Oscar nominations, including best picture and director.

    Margot Robbie should be a lock for a Best Actress nod, completely burying her Australian background to deliver American white trash with complete credibility. (She won't win of course, because ... Tonya.) Her skating sequences are edited brilliantly - you really believe that it's her.

    THE surest Oscar bet has to be Allison Janney as Tonya's acerbic, domineering, Swisher-chain-smoking mother LaVona Golden. She gives what I call a "schizophrenia" performance - there's no way that anyone seeing JUNO and this film back-to-back would ever notice that the mothers in both films are played by the same actress. Robbie got the loudest applause when the actors were introduced before the film, but when they came out afterwards, Janney's applause was equivalent to hers.

    The story sticks to facts and places most of the blame for the Kerrigan incident on Sean Eckhardt, played with spot-on obnoxiousness by Paul Walter Hauser. The rest goes to hubby-at-times Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan. He handles the husband-to-a-celebrity role with a charm not seen since Eric Roberts in STAR 80.

    The subject matter may cost the film at awards time, but it's still an excellent movie that you should definitely check out if you have any interest at all in the story.
  • ggallegosgroupuk7 December 2017
    I was going to make a list of people who made extraordinary things during the same period that Tonya Harding monopolized the headlines but then I thought it was a pointless exercise. Charles Manson will always be more famous, much more than Sharon Tate. That's the world we live in or maybe it always was. The sadness verging on horror of of the Tonya Harding story will win, fascination wise, than any kind of kindness from anyone anywhere. Now that out of my system let me say that I Tonya is an entertaining harrowing tale directed by Craig Gillespie and his extraordinary cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis with, clearly, Martin Scorsese in their minds and hearts. Margot Robbie is terrific and Sebastian Stan as the husband from hell, superb but it's Allison Janney that creates a character that is impossible to take and irresistible at the same time. She is spectacular. So, that's more than enough to recommend I Tonya but if the Tabloid Times is something you subscribe I will highly recommend Gus Van Sant's To Die For and Michael Ritchie's made for television The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.
  • jon.h.ochiai15 January 2018
    "I, Tonya" is amazing. Margot Robbie gifts a career defining performance. Margot plays disgraced 1994 US Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. Her performance as Tonya is fearless, vulnerable, sad and poignantly flawed. Harding is notorious for knowing about the attack upon US figure skating Champion Nancy Kerrigan which led to her eventual ban from competitive skating which was her life.

    Director Craig Gillespie neither vilifies nor justifies Tonya offering the experience of being her. That she wanted to be loved, to be gotten, and to be the best. At the time Tonya was the only women's figure skater in the world to land the impossible triple axel in competition. Robbie as Tonya in an interview in the movie acknowledged when she landed the triple axel in the trials she knew, "I was the best!" Tonya was driven, the figure skating phenom, but she was less than phenom in her life. I think that is the poignancy of Gillespie's direction and Steven Rogers's story.

    "I, Tonya" is not really dark comedy. "I, Tonya" is just dark with laughs in its irony and the stupidity of those closest to Tonya. The movie is the dichotomy that defines the tragedy of domestic violence and abuse. In one scene Tonya's husband Jeff, played by convincing Sebastian Stan, slams the freezer door in Tonya's face, because she questions why he didn't buy Dove ice cream bars. That is so wrong. That makes you so angry.

    Gillespie depicts that pattern of abuse throughout of beating on screen. And Tonya takes it, and stays until she can no longer. The abuse originates with Mom LaVona, played by focused Allison Janney, who thinks she is tough love as she pushes her daughter in her skating career. No, Mom is an abuser. Janney's LaVona could have been comic caricature; instead she brilliantly nuances the single Mom working waitress raising her kid the way she was raised. Robbie is touching humanity as Tonya, who has the self awareness that she is uneducated, but she is smarter than she thinks and way smarter than those surrounding her.

    "I, Tonya" and Robbie in contrasts of edgy humor and human cruelty touchingly tells the story of how we are raised and the people we choose to spend life with either define or curse. Much about Tonya seems to be the in order to, to prove something. In the great scene before her competition her new Coach Doty, played by strong Bojana Novakovic, tells her "You show them." That I think becomes the conversation that dominates Tonya's life.

    Needing her Mom's help after she leaves husband Jeff, Tonya sees her Mom. She asks her Mom that when she was a kid, "Did you love me?" Robbie's Tonya is in tears. That breaks your heart. Really Tonya just wanted to be loved, like we all do. That may be the point of Gillespie's "I, Tonya" with all its emotional extremes and uncomfortable laughs. Perhaps, most of the laughs come from the blatant stupidity of Jeff and his idiot friend Shawn, played by good Paul Walter Hauser.

    Maybe "I, Tonya" works in its profound sadness as well. Toward the end Tonya says, "I am not a monster." No, she's not. She is just the little girl who wanted to be loved and never got it. She was driven and wanted to be the best. Tonya is just human. She is both lightness and darkness. Perhaps within "I, Tonya" are loud laughs and the subtle lesson of having compassion. "I, Tonya" is one of my favorite movies of the year.
  • I must have been at a different movie than those who did not like it. The story is well written, the acting was excellent and the twist in the way the story is delivered makes for a memorable event. At certain points when Tonya speaks to the audience she speaks right to you. A great story to get lost in and I was not really interested in seeing this when I went into the theater.
  • Before I give my thoughts on 'I, Tonya', let me just say two words: Allison Janney. The Multiple Time Emmy-Winning Actress delivers one of the STRONGEST Performances of the year, in her portrayal of LaVona Fay Golden, Tonya Harding's Mother from hell. Janney is pure Oscar-GOLD.

    And now coming to the film...

    'I, Tonya' like any other sports Biopic, shows us a woman from being a bullied nobody to becoming a somebody in the world of sports. Over-here, we explore Tonya Harding's hardened journey, that is at times powerful & at times exhausting.

    'I, Tonya' Synopsis: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, in great form) rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband (Sebastian Stan, very good) intervenes.

    'I, Tonya' is about Tonya's violent journey, that started from an impossible, no-holds-barred mother to a violent, brutal husband, who eventually ruined her career. But, Tonya is not a victim of her circumstances. Here is a woman, who despite being thrown into a world of ice-skating & rigorous competition, left a strong mark. She may have not done the right things to get to the position she got, but she was a talented personality who had the power to mesmerize & inspire.

    Steven Rogers' Screenplay begins superbly & the personal interviews of its characters throughout the film, give it that extra edge. The first-hour is solid & gets into Tonya's world & the people involved with a wicked sense of humor. The second-hour is a little disappointing & overlong, and the sub-plot involving the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Harding's rival and Olympic teammate, offers less impact. The Writing isn't always compelling & takes away some glory from the film, overall. The Dialogue, however, are crackling & foul to the core.

    Craig Gillespie's Direction captures all the madness & ambition, with skill. The Director is in good form this time around. Nicolas Karakatsanis's Cinematography & Tatiana S. Riegel's Editing are strongly done. Art & Costume Design, as well as Make-Up, deserve a special mention.

    Performance-Wise: Janney is outstanding & is sure to pick up many awards for her portrayal here. I wouldn't be surprised if she takes the Oscar home, next year! Margot Robbie, also is in very form, delivering a credible turn as Tonya. Sebastian Stan is entirely convincing as the violent husband. And Paul Walter Hauser is terrific as Shawn, one of Stan's friends, who leads Tonya & Stan, into much trouble.

    On the whole, 'I, Tonya' is an imperfect biopic about an imperfect woman. Do watch it though, especially for Janney's sterling performance.
  • This is an amazing black comedy/drama that sheds a very factual account of the tragic life of Tonya Harding. Margo Robbie deserves an Oscar for her perfect portrayal of Miss Harding and the life of abuse she encountered. Several Academy Awards will be won from this movie possibly best actress. Don't hesitate to spend $12.00 to see this piece or art!
  • WubsTheFadger25 April 2018
    Short and Simple Review by WubsTheFadger

    I, Tonya tells the story of Tonya Harding as she grows up to become a professional figure skater and then falls into the depths of controversy. The story is interesting and very entertaining. The story does lose some steam in the middle but towards the end it picks back up. I wish they had gone into her sex tape controversy because it would have added to her story.

    The acting is very good. Margot Robbie performs very well as Tonya Harding. Sebastian Stan, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser (who is hilarious), and Bojana Novakovic (who is such a sweet lady) all perform very well. Allison Janney delivers the best performance throughout the entire film. Her brutality towards Tonya is so real its scary. She truly deserved the award for Best Actress.

    The pacing is a little slow and the runtime is overlong.

    Pros: Interesting and entertaining story, good acting, Margot Robbie's great performance, Allison Janney and her amazing performance, and a good ending

    Cons: The story losses steam in the middle, some slow pacing, and an overlong runtime

    Overall Rating; 7.3
  • jeomo15 March 2018
    I didn't enjoy this movie. Sometimes I like the docudrama style, but in this case, it seemed more like a substitute for a real script.. I thought the characters were one dimensional and the docudrama script was pretty uninspired.

    But mostly I found the movie to be a sad parody of Harding as she was portrayed by much of the media at the time. I followed the story with mild interest, and without strong feelings about any of it--not pro-Kerrigan, not pro-Harding, nor with any guesses as to what actually happened. That said, Harding never struck me as anything like the (as another reviewer put it) "white trash hillbilly" the media tried to portray her as, any more than Kerrigan stuck me as the smug ice queen, although it seemed there could have easily been some truth at the core of both portrayals.

    I thought the movie portrayed Harding as far harder and trashier than she came across at the time. I remember her more as unpolished than trashy, and with an underlying vulnerability that the movie talked about, but which I didn't think Robbie ever conveyed. I saw it even in the brief film clips of the real Harding at the end, but perhaps that's just because I remember her that way.

    The movie seemed to be trying to give a more balanced portrayal of Harding than the media had at the time. I thought it was kind of sad, that, instead, it ended up portraying an exaggerated caricature of the media-induced Harding.
  • I didn't expect much going into this film... I'm not into figure skating or docu style movies (as per trailer), but I have to say, this one blew me away!

    Margot Robbie and Allison Janney just nailed their roles! I'm sure this is Margot Robbie's best performance... she got right into her character. Craig Gillespie's outstanding directing contributes to the greatness of this film.

    There isn't anything bad to critique here. I highly recommend seeing this as I'm sure you'll be getting more out of it than you'd expect. A well deserved 8.5 rounded up to a 9/10 from me!
  • TL;DR

    • Unique style makes it personal and stand out
    • Great soundtrack
    • Goodfellas vibe to the whole thing
    • Tracks a lot of Tonya's life but the focus narrows in on "the incident", improving structure
    • Phenomenal performances, particularly Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in particular


    You have to admit, I, Tonya came out at a pretty perfect time; with the Oscars just around the corner and the Winter Olympics in full swing, Margot Robbie's latest ticks both boxes with a film about ice skating worthy of its three Academy Award nominations. Bringing a sporting legend to life, I, Tonya is a well-made, strangely captivating film.

    The style chosen by director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers is a unique, interesting one and works very well. Starting from her childhood and tracking her life up until the present (more or less), it's absolutely a biopic, but it's given a dash of personality and realism by occasionally having the style of a documentary, with the actors recreating the real-life interviews and the editing cutting the talking-heads to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the film - the nomination for editing is well-deserved. Having the actors break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, both in the talking heads and fitting into the action, makes the story seem a lot more personal and works well, also fitting with Tonya's rebellious persona. In fact the constant personal narration (along with the fantastic soundtrack) gives off a strong Goodfellas vibe that works well.

    Most of the film is about the characters though, the latter half specifically being about how they react and handle the aftermath of "the incident". The cast are all wonderful, without a weak link. Even the comic relief in Paul Walter Hauser doesn't detract from the film's tone and is used in moderation to lighten things up. It's especially refreshing to see Sebastian Stan flex his acting talents more than we often see him in the Marvel films, with his Bucky character relegated to just brooding and not giving off much of a character. Here however he's given a chance to deliver a well-rounded, complex performance, playing a character we really shouldn't like, but Stan makes the pathetic and aggressive Jeff almost sympathetic. This complex performance extends especially to the Oscar nominated performances by Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. Robbie makes a wonderful lead, fully embracing the "bad-girl" persona of Tonya Harding, while still making her empathetic and likeable. With such a charismatic, intricate performance, it's not surprising she's been nominated. Janney in particular is one of the most interesting characters though, easily stealing every scene she's in and really making the part her own. It would be so easy for her character to be seen as an abusive villain, but instead she makes her more complex than that. Like with all the characters, Janney's excellent performance portrays her character as neither good nor bad, neither likeable nor unlikable. She's a flawed person and is perhaps the best thing in the film.

    I, Tonya is nothing if not refreshing; a uniquely styled biopic which breaks the fourth wall, is effortlessly entertaining and captivates audiences worldwide with flawless performances of very flawed characters. This one easily steals a gold medal.
  • sydbuyer13 February 2018
    This one keeps you well entertained for the whole 2 hours. Cleverly crafted with wonderful performances from all involved, definitely worth the watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I, Tonya, is director Craig Gillespie's take on the mercurial rise and fall of Tonya Harding, the figure skating champion who threw away her career through her association with an abusive ex-husband. Gillespie tells Harding's story through a series of interviews with the principals, most made up to appear how they might look in the present time, speaking directly to the camera, and insisting that their version of events is the correct one.

    The real star of the film is not the actress who plays Tonya (Margot Robbie) but Allison Janney, who steals the show as Tonya's mother from hell, LaVona Golden, a serial psychological abuser, who still manages to garner sympathy through her abrasively witty comments directed toward Tonya throughout her childhood and into adulthood (as well as directed toward us, the enraptured audience). One can't help sense that LaVona heaped abuse on her daughter both out of love and jealousy-love in the sense that she wanted Tonya to be more successful in life than she was (LaVona being a waitress at a greasy spoon) and jealous once Tonya had achieved the fame and recognition that eluded her mother who was nonetheless a highly intelligent woman.

    If it wasn't for Janney, I, Tonya, might have been a complete flop, as Robbie, the Australian actress who plays Tonya, is all wrong for the part. This is especially true when Robbie plays Tonya as a teenager-she simply looks too old to be believable. What's worse is how Robbie is unable to convey Tonya's likable qualities-that odd mixture of naivety and "trailer trash" aggression that initially endeared the public to her. Instead, Robbie comes off as too harsh, compromising her attempts to convey Tonya's more vulnerable side. While Robbie is an accomplished skater (and this is probably the reason why she was cast), I think it was a big mistake for Gillespie to use her for that reason. Without a compelling protagonist, the necessary verisimilitude is lost.

    Gillespie's approach, akin to the Japanese classic, Rashomon, works best when Tonya's and husband Jeff Gillooly's differing points of view are contrasted in high relief. Gillooly denied that he ever physically assaulted Tonya but that seems highly unlikely as Tonya's description of what happened has the ring of truth. At a certain point, Tonya had enough of the abuse and decided to walk away from Gillooly-she even had to get a restraining order as he continued to stalk her (once putting a gun to her head, threatening to shoot her). But why did Tonya feel that she needed to go back to Gillooly after separating?-even though she claimed it was only a temporary arrangement. Despite being on the verge of complete success in the skating world, the old demons reared their ugly head-her crushing insecurities from her mother's put-downs and lack of a father figure-this led to her inevitable fall from grace.

    The bizarre plot to injure Tonya's rival, Nancy Kerrigan concocted by Gillooly's moronic pal, Sean Eckhardt, is so ludicrous that it's hard to believe that he actually thought he could pull something like this off undetected. I happen to believe both Gillooly and Harding's assertions that they were unaware that the plot was going to turn into a physical attack on Kerrigan. Gillooly insisted the initial plan was to send Kerrigan some threatening letters which might perhaps cause her to withdraw from the tournament or throw her off her game. It makes sense that Gillooly would confront Eckhardt over his lame-brain decision to have one of his confederates actually break Kerrigan's knee cap with a baton, suggesting that Gillooly had no idea what Eckhardt was ultimately up to.

    Much of what happens after the attack on Kerrigan, is anti-climactic. Gillespie basically presents a basic recap as to what happened as the story reaches its not so fitful conclusion. Of interest of course are the courtroom machinations, particularly Tonya's decision to take a plea bargain and accept a lifetime ban from figure skating. Benjamin Lee, writing in the Guardian, sums it up perfectly when he writes: "The zippy fun of the first half dissipates once we reach the overly familiar scenes of the second, the focus on the harebrained criminal scheme feeling particularly sub-Coenesque. It's hardly dull but it's not quite as biting and sharply realized as it could be given the wealth of stranger-than-fiction drama surrounding Harding."

    With a more convincing protagonist in the lead role, I, Tonya, might have been a tad bit more enjoyable; nonetheless, there's still Janney's performance to marvel at. And for all those who long for nostalgia, Tonya's story will bring you back to the heady days of the early 1990s, a time that feels way distant from our own.
  • jc-osms21 May 2018
    As much as I knew about the ice-skater Tonya Harding was her association with the Nancy Kerrigan incident at the Winter Olympics and her being the only American woman to, up to that point, successfully pull off a triple salkot in competition. I know that she was disgraced as a result of her at-a-distance connection to the Kerrigan assault but that she'd come back into the public eye, competing recently in the American version of "Strictly Come Dancing". So what an eye-opener this low-budget feature was.

    It unflinchingly shows her upbringing, from a broken home, natch by a mother who clearly put the "hard" into Harding. Chain-smoking, foul-mouthed and bullying, she's the ice skating equivalent of the infamous "show-biz moms" you read about, hitting her daughter with everything but a little maternal love, deluding herself that her cruelty to her only child is self-sacrifice on her part designed to toughen up her little girl for the big bad world that's out there. Her father, you get the impression might just have made a difference, but you couldn't really blame him for baling out on his no-redeeming-features wife.

    There's dark comedy in these early scenes as mommie dearest Lavona ignores every social convention to promote her tomboy daughter's one given talent, her ice-skating ability but its typical of Tonya's luck that the man who comes into her life romantically turns out to be a jealous, possessive guy who behind his geeky moustache and weedy appearance threatens her, hits her and even shoots at her anytime she tries to break away from him. Not that Tonya is any shrinking violet, she gives as good as she gets in their numerous arguments and drop-down fights but unfortunately he's back in play just as she's readying herself for a crack at the Olympics where her biggest rival will be clean-cut, all-American Nancy Kerrigan, whose stylishly cut, virginal white skating costume contrasts vividly with Harding's old-fashioned, frills and bows homemade outfit.

    The "incident" itself, a cockeyed plan by hubby and his meathead bodyguard chum, sees the latter beat Kerrigan on the leg after a training session, becomes international news as the Winter Olympics of 1992 come around pitching the rivals head-to-head with a recovered Kerrigan finishing a close-up second but a psyched-out Harding come in a lowly eighth and that after a controversial re-skate when she dramatically stops her first routine as her boot lace comes undone.

    This movie is the women's ice-skating equivalent of "Raging Bull", a warts and all portrayal of a kid from the wrong side of the tracks striving to make something of herself with everything seemingly stacked against her. Her greatest moment is shown not as winning Skate America or coming second in the World Championships but the first time she nails that near impossible jump on the ice. From there it's downhill all the way as we see her struggle with her notoriety in the aftermath of all the publicity post-conviction, trying to scratch a living, even trying pro-boxing for a spell.

    The performances by the three leads, Margot Robbie as Harding, Allison Janney as the mother from hell and Sebastian Stan as her unhinged husband are terrific. The direction style is a clever mix of eye-on-the-wall documentary realism including recreated to-camera interviews with the main participants and fourth-wall-breaking asides together with convincing depictions of the ice-skating sequences.

    It all makes for a deliberately awkward but compulsive insight into Stateside trailer-trash living and also how hard it is for those on the inside to break free from this rough and tumble upbringing and make something of themselves. In this biopic, Tonya Harding tried as hard as she could but was literally born to lose, the little victories and happiness she achieved along the way, scant recompense for a reputation tarnished forever by events outwith her control.
  • They described the movie "Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships," When in reality it is a story of abuse between deranged people. I was getting ready to watch a sports bio pic... There is no rise amongst the ranks in this film. That story-line is the 17th most important in the story-line after the fact that her idiot husband can't fix a car. I gave it a 4 because the cast was good. They are really good in the movie but it is just not a good movie to be in.
  • First, I'm stating that it's the best film of the year, and I just barely care about women's figure skating. So you know that it's phenomenal. For me, it edges out "Dunkirk," which was my favorite 2017 film until the night I saw it.

    Director Craig Gillespie is obviously a Scorsese protégé, and unlike Martin McDonagh's cheap ripoff of the Cohen brothers, he manages to pay homage to the man without imitating him. Like Scorsese (and Bob Fosse) he meshes documentary with realistic drama seamlessly well.

    Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan deliver good performances. Allison Janney and especially Paul Walter Hauser deliver OUTSTANDING performances. In fact, I didn't feel like Hauser was even acting as much as he was just BEING. These performances are also a credit to Gillespie.

    Almost every scene is well-paced, has little "fat," conveys meaning and adds to the narrative, which indicates great video editing. The editing was so good that I didn't even check the time, which is rare for me. Outstanding pacing.

    When I entered the theater, I didn't think that I was going to get even slightly emotional about Tonya Harding's story. But she is truly a sympathetic character without feeling sorry for herself, which is rare nowadays. Nowadays, everyone seems to be competing for who has it worst and who is the most pathetic victim. In Tonya's world, it's just her life, and it's presented as factual rather than maudlin and soap operatic. As Tonya basically says at the end of the film, "s--t happens. Deal with it."
  • Margot robbie definitely gave one of her greatest performances ever, yet the film had a lot of flaws there is a lot of confusing decisions made in this movie, the fact that they made the same actors do their teen-aging years and their 20 years later versions was kinda hard to believe and the way 'the incident" was delivered was a bit confusing too in fact, the way the whole story was delivered was not the greatest.

    the performances was the only thing that made that whole movie bearable really, Margot Robbie did a great job playing her character and so did Allison Janney, her performance was so convincing i wanted to punch her in the face through out the entire movie sebastian stan's performance was kind of confusing though. i mean, he did have some moments that made me so believe him, but other than that i thought his squeaky attempt to impersonate jeff's voice (which turned out not being that squeaky in the real interview) was kinda disturbing, but that is a director's thing though, which brings us back to the wrong decisions

    the movie in general made me question the reason why they did it, it somehow felt at some point that the producers themselves didn't know the actual truth behind the incident too

    after all, it still had some touching moments and kinda felt enjoyable at some moments, although this feeling doesn't last so long but it's still a movie telling a story about a girl who stood for her dream but in no ordinary way.
  • I finally have watched this movie and I can say I am deeply disappointed. I, as a big fan of figure ice skating was really thrilled about this movie and expected much more. If you don't know much about Tonya Harding's story, I suggest you read about her and watch some of her old and new interviews and you'll understand why I didn't like the movie.

    One of the reasons is its screen script. There is no "official story" about what happened to Tonya Harding or Nancy Kerrigan. The script was written based on interviews with Tonya and her ex-husband, carried on by the screen writer himself. So, much of what is told in the movie is purely fictional, especially the parts about her mother, since she never agreed to talk to the screen writer or the production staff. Tonya herself said some parts of the movie were inaccurate, and Margot Robbie said that when she first read the script she thought it was about a fictional figure skater, not Tonya Harding.

    Besides, many things in this movie remain unexplained. The movie is basically about the verbal, physical and moral abuse Tonya endured throughout her life, but shows too little how Tonya built her athletic and ice skating career. And regarding the Nancy Kerrigan controversy, there isn't much talked about, either. Nancy is just a shadow in this movie, there's nothing about her point of view or how the incident actually affected her or her career. In the end you feel that you don't really know what the life of Tonya Harding the ice skater was really like.

    Regarding the direction, I found really tasteless Gillespie's attempt to give a comical tone in the NUMEROUS domestic violence scenes of the movie. The characters break the 4th wall to give the violent scenes a more 'casual' look (because according to Gillespie, Tonya talks about her violent past in a very casual manner), but cinematographically this 'casual tone' didn't work - it only makes it look like the movie romanticizes abuse and underestimates its impact on a woman's life. Also, the whole sarcastic/comical tone of the movie made it feel superficial, boring and childish. To me, a more serious approach to Tonya's life would be more appropriate.

    And regarding Margot Robbie's performance, I found it very disappointing and amateurish. Regardless the fact that she's not as bulky or athletic as the real Tonya, she played a white trash, foul-mouthed Tonya Harding that never existed. Her interpretation of a redneck is purely stereotypical. Also, I don't know where Robbie's accent came from, since real-life Tonya doesn't have that strong southern accent - she's from Portland, come on! It's an annoying accent that appears and disappears throughout the movie, alongside with the numerous bad words (some of them included by Robbie herself) and a very artificial, rude way to talk that Harding didn't have. Robbie didn't convince me and made me feel NOTHING for her character.

    On the other side, Allison Janney is BRILLIANT as Tonya's mother. She could flawless play a sociopath, and truly deserves at least an Oscar nomination as a supporting actress. Another good surprise in this movie is Paul Walter Hauser's acting.

    To sum it all up, this is a mediocre movie, that didn't entertain me (how am I supposed to find funny a story with so much domestic violence?), and didn't move me. It also barely tells who in fact Tonya Harding was. It is a superficial, bidimensional portrait of a woman who's surely much more complex than what was shown in the movie.
  • I didn't enjoy this movie. It couldn't decide what kind of movie it wanted to be; dead-on realism, raw violence, absurdist comedy, or satire.

    I thought Robbie is completely miscasted, feels like a hollywood actor version of a real life person. It felt like she was acting rather than actually being in the role. Not to mention she's far too old. Playing a teenager? Come off it. Who would believe she's suppose to be 15 at the start :D It also didn't help that she's half a foot taller and model slim rather than athletic built.

    Janney would good, but the role wasn't much a stretch for her usual roles.

    The CGI was pretty crappy and very distracting.

    It's a shame the movie made it seem like she didn't know the incident was going to happen when she's already admitted she knew.
  • I usually do not get into biographies. The main problem I have with biographies is that they tell the life of a celebrity that I really do not care much about in the first place. I, Tonya won me over with the trailers. By the time I was done watching the film, I was more then won over. I was conquered. This was very well done. Its packed with live footage, commentary, and raw emotion, and never steers away from feeling like an actual movie rather then just a bunch of facts and lots of talking. To lighten the mood, it has the right elements of humor added. The mood had to be lightened for me, because I found this to be a very sad movie. If you've ever judged Tonya for what she did or did not do way back in 1994, you really need to watch this movie. Do you know that at the time this happened, I remembered a media coverage saying that Tonya was the one who hit Nancy with the stick. It wasn't her. It cannot be denied that Tonya got screwed, double screwed, and triple screwed along with her triple jump, which she is the first woman who performed such a trick. She got screwed by the media with their false accusations. She got double screwed by a court that unjustifiably put the heat on her, instead of the real culprits. And she got triple screwed by having such a controlling, manipulative mother. I loved I, Tonya for what it was. It follows her from three and a half years old, all the way to her laughingstock boxing career. I found this a great treat, as it cleared up a lot of the bogus lies the media was feeding us at the time. Again, I found this altogether a very sad movie, I did feel very sorry for Tonya, but the film serves its purpose...if you're ever wondering what really happened, and what has happened since then, to Tonya, you will not be disappointed with I, Tonya. The movie also has a great soundtrack.
  • "I, Tonya" is a film based on an undeniably startling series of events in the ice skating and entertainment-gossip worlds of its era, but it ultimately comes off as a cruel stunt rather than a riveting dissection of all that went down and the societal implications of same, which it pretends to be. From the very first moments of the film the actors come off as actors commenting on, and impersonating, the real-life people they play rather than becoming them (with the usually-reliable Bobby Cannavale the worst offender of all), and that queasy feeling lasts throughout the film, even when it pretends to be sympathetic to their violent, lost, and confused world. Allison Janney, who I usually enjoy tremendously as an actor, summed up what I suspected about the actors' and creators' misguided, even clueless actions regarding the making of this film: On a talk show she condescendingly described the real Tonya Harding's behavior at the recent Golden Globes Awards show while seated at her table by implying Tonya had the clueless audacity to approach Oprah at a nearby table, when, in fact, you also get from the story that Tonya innocently thought Oprah would remember her from interviewing her back during the actual high-profile peak of the events' turmoil. That same condescension toward the (at the time) clueless real people involved showed through in the film itself as well, and it makes for uncomfortable viewing. Yes, it is true the real-life people depicted were then-clueless and confused, lost participants in life-destroying antics, but everyone involved in this present-day production should have realized their depiction of them is just as lost, clueless and confused.
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