Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 3 Average: 4/5]
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan, Paul Walter Hauser, Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver
I, Tonya is an unfiltered and brutally honest take on the life of one of the most controversial figure in the history of sports. The biopic presents the facts as it is- including the tough upbringing of the lead protagonist leading up to the infamous incident and it’s repercussions. I, Tonya bares it all with a brilliant screenplay which is taken to the next level by the strong performances from its cast.
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) started skating at a tender age of 4 introduced by her vulgar and rough mother LaVona Fay Golden(Allison Janney). Constantly derided and abused (both verbally and physically) by her mother she develops a similar attitude which makes her one of the most disliked by the judges. Still, on pure talent she becomes one of the best figure skaters in the world of the time and the only one in US capable of doing a triple axel jump. She falls in love with Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) who happens to be the first person who appreciates her. But even in this relationship she suffers abuse. And as it sometimes happens when you are derided and made to feel less your whole life you start to believe that maybe its your own fault! She marries him for love and to be free from her mother but soon reality bites or rather punches and leaves bruises. How her life after a brief upturn goes into the nosedive aided by “the incident” forms the rest of the story.
Margot Robbie has kicked ass, this is one of the finest, unfiltered and ruthless performance from the Aussie and I felt partly it was due to the fact the script was tailor made for her. She is at ease with cursing, skating or even getting punched- this movie is driven by her and you can’t take your eyes off her. She lays out all the different shades of Tonya’s character which is helped by the director’s willingness to showcase bitter aspects of her life. From craziness, to subtle romance this movie has it all and Margot Robbie has aced it all especially the last scene of her pleading in court.
The best part of the movie is the screenplay which is series of mockumentary interviews of Tonya and the main characters involved in Tonya’s life. There is a set pattern where an incident is shown and the characters involved in the scene are asked for their opinions and it is so hilarious that everyone denies that incident happened or comes up with an excuse of why he/she did that. Craig Gillespie has done a tremendous job by not making a plain biography of this dark comedy.
I, Tonya is about Margot Robbie but the movie is about two halves and though the second half belongs to her, the first one completely belongs to her mom Lavona. She is blunt and extremely vulgar and has (as she often quotes) given her entire salary from waiting tables to fund the skating fees of Tonya. In her words, its her sacrifice which has made Tonya a champion. Lavona knows how to fuel Tonya’s rage, she pays a guy to talk trash riling up Tonya and eventually leading to her best performance. Her character reminded me of Terence Fletcher’s role in Whiplash- mean, acerbic but in both the cases that was required to make them the best. Allison Janney is simply outstanding and is definitely going to win an Oscar this year.
The supporting cast have all done well: Sebastian Stan has shown his acting prowess and has essayed a variety of shades with ease- from being concerned and loving to being romantic to being violent and lastly regretful. And then there is Paul Walter Hauer as Shawn, Jeff’s friend and their personal bodyguard. He stays in the shadows in the entire movie and in the end steals the thunder. What he says and does and believes is hilarious and fantastical and you’d take it as a joke but its real’- they even show a footage at the end to confirm it. I also liked the role of Julianne Nicholson as Diane Rawlinson, Tonya’s coach from her younger days. She is the only sane one amongst all the crazies.
The real Tonya Harding was much more than the incident, people have forgotten her as a person, a champion and this movie tries to bring that out. Its a stand out movie with a cracking screenplay and stunning performances.
There’s no such thing as truth. It’s bullshit. Everyone has their own truth,
and life just does whatever the fuck it wants.