Fun movie. A lot more entertaining than what you would think a figure skating movie to be. Margot Robbie was great and Allison Janney was fantastic. I really enjoyed the music. I thought every time they break the fourth wall was a smart way to deal with conflicting point of views from the real life people and they were funny.
[8.2/10] It’s easy to become desensitized to violence on the screen. Superheroes can pummel hordes of faceless bad guys, or each other. Jedi can leap into lightsaber fights from hear to the edge of the galaxy. And slapstick comedy can turn events that would cause untold pain in real life into cartoony hilarity.
But we don’t tend to think about when people become desensitized to violence not because of the images they’ve seen or the context in which they’re presented, but rather because it’s an everyday part of their lives, something they don’t enjoy or relish, but no more question or find out of the ordinary than they would bad weather.
I, Tonya, then, is a film about what it is to expect abuse in your life, both physical and emotional, to the point that you no longer question it, or even fully recognize it. It depicts Tonya Harding as someone who has heard so many times that she doesn’t measure up, that she isn’t good enough, that she’ll never amount to anything (often with physical reminders to accentuate these put downs) that she accepts any abuse in exchange for even the prospect that someone will appreciate her, will respect her, will love her.
The most devastating line in film comes in one of the montages about the early tumult in the marriage between Tonya and her husband Jeff, where she rationalizes his domestic violence away by reasoning, “My mom loves me, and she hits me.” It’s a sad, but understandable equivalence from someone who’s known nothing else, going from one abusive family relationship to another.
The grand achievement of the film is the way that it manages to approach these dark events in a manner that’s both incisive and funny. It doesn’t skimp on the ridiculousness of the world of professional figure skating, or on the shaggier side of this collection of nudniks each trying to conquer the world in their own way, but it doesn’t shy away from or compartmentalize the darker underbelly of all that lunacy either.
Part of what makes it stomachable is that we get most of the film in the form of cobbled-together recollections from Tonya and the other players, with plenty of fourth wall-breaking commentary and voice over to add a layer of cutting or knowing commentary onto these events. That device allows the film to be at a remove when it needs to, giving the audience a chance to reflect on what’s happening rather than forced to be a part of it.
But when we do feel it, it’s through Tonya’s eyes, and for Tonya, violence, disappointment, and shaming are a matter of fact thing. That’s the soft tragedy that winds its way through the film. Horrid incident after horrid incident befalls Tonya, but she seems to take it in stride, because it’s all she’s ever known, until those moments accumulate and accumulate until they’ve taken away the thing she cares most about, the thing that gave her a chance to escape that life.
That shame is personified by Tonya’s mother, LaVona, a profane battleaxe who browbeats her preternaturally talented daughter deeper and deeper into the sport. It’s a powerhouse performance from the inimitable Allison Janney, and character aided both by Janney’s stellar acting and some choice moments in the script.
It would be easy to make LaVona a pure monster, with how she degrades her daughter at every turn and resorts to physical violence and cruel stunts when she doesn’t get her way. But in scenes where she tells Tonya that she sacrificed their relationship to make Tonya great, she becomes comprehensible, though not laudable, as all great villains should be. And there’s that twinkle in Janney’s eye, that sincerity she can muster, that gives the audience just enough to wonder if LaVona means it when she tells her daughter that she’s on her side, even when she’s surreptitiously recording her in search of a scoop.
That moment is a the whole film in microcosm, a story of people seeming to welcome Tonya, to give her the attention and affection she hopes for, only to tear it away from her. The film’s nod to this is a tad overwritten, but those are also the terms in which it interrogates celebrity. Beyond LaVona, beyond Jeff, Tonya wants to be embraced by the world, and for one shining moment, her talent makes her the darling she always wanted to be.
But then, the scandal hits. An incident she may or may not have been involved with comes to consume her career and reputation, and after coming so close, after having her all-too-brief moment in the sun, she becomes a laughing stock and a punching bag, in a country of late night comedians and tabloid headline writers who help set the stage for people to either groan or titter when hearing her name. The world acts as her mother and husband did, however unwittingly, with her desperate for approval and appreciation, and chasing it until she’s smacked down into her place once more.
That sense of Tonya having overstepped her bounds is also a palpable theme in the film. There’s a steady sense of how a combination of classism and sexism hindered her at every turn. Skating is (or at least was) a sport where women were expected to act a certain way, where competitors were expected to uphold a certain spirit of grace and genteelity. Tonya met none of those criteria. She was more athletic than graceful, a woman of poverty rather than refinement, and the way the staid gatekeepers refused to let her in for this is one more misfortune visited upon her.
This all makes I, Tonya sound far more grim that it is. There is a Coen Bros. quality to the film, where a bunch of small time, bumbling crooks try to pull off a caper and fall on their faces, while laughing at the absurdity and darkness bundled up with that. The script is smart and funny, with plenty of razor sharp lines and wry observations that work on multiple levels. And the shots and sequences of Tonya’s performances on the ice capture the sense of power and achievement, using the camera as her dance partner and greatest champion, showing a talent that cannot be denied to witness, even if it can be denied on score cards.
And after all of that denial, all of that rejection, all of those painful stumbles, the final scene highlights her brief but headline-grabbing boxing career. After all, that sort of physical violence is all she knows, the irony being that she doesn’t even understand the outpouring of support when Nancy Kerrigan is “hit once.” After her lifetime of violence, Tonya is too desensitized to it to comprehend what the big deal is, or where the similar sympathy is for her when all manner of authority: from her mother, to the powers that be of the skating establishment, to the police, don’t seem to care.
There’s a recurring leitmotif in I, Tonya where Tonya constantly denies that anything is her fault. There’s the implication that she’ll devolve into self-sabotage or give less-than-her-best effort and yet pass the buck for any misstep onto a conspiracy or a bias or something else that she’s not responsible for.
And yet, the only thing she publicly accepts guilt for is the one thing for which she’s truly blameless -- the people in her life. When Tonya makes her public apology, she says she had no prior knowledge of the attack, but apologize for surrounding herself with people who did and would. It’s those people -- her mother who derided her and primed her for another abuser like her husband -- who helped shape Tonya into the person so susceptible to pursuing any manner of affection and attention, while not fully comprehending the gravity of the risk and pain to be inflicted on her in the process of seeking it out.
I, Tonya is not your standard biopic. It is dark but funny, sympathetic but not hagiographic, and narrow but fulsome. It presents the story of a young woman so inured to abuse, so used to its awful presence, that she hardly recognizes it anymore, until it keeps from the things she wants most.
Nobody cared about figure skating before or after Tonya left...period...name a current skater... Don't worry I'll wait...yeah shuddup
honestly, Tonya really did nothing wrong.
Great movie. Allison Janney is just effortlessly brilliant in every single scene.
I, Tonya is a shining example of how a 'based on a true story' movie should be made. Equal parts truth, empathy and pathos -- with a double helping of humour -- the film takes the disaster that was Tonya Harding's youth and makes it palatable without diminishing its gravity. Craig Gillespie has achieved the impossible by filming a train wreck with all the grace of a ballet. Or a figure skating routine. (Wanna see a derailed locomotive do a triple axel?)The film stock reinforces the look of the late 80s / early 90s conveyed by the clothes and the cars but none of these is as efficient as the music. My god, the soundtrack is as well used as that of Baby Driver; even more so as the songs here communicate not just the mood of the moment but define the decade, as well.As for the acting, Margot Robbie has the Midas touch because whatever role she takes on, you Midas well nominate her for all the awards. Sebastian Stan does such a good job you'd hardly suspect he's one of the hottest actors working today and so much good has been written about Allison Janney that anything I say would be redundant. To make a long review short, I Tonya is the movie that this sympathetic and tragically sincere equivocator deserves.
I've attempted to write a review of this film 3 times, but each time I was too afraid I wasn't being original enough, or I wasn't saying anything new. That's when I realized the essential message of this film is there is an assumption on our societal figures, and our role models to be perfect, and they often crush under the pressure while we laugh. I don't really know what to say but what I can tell you is Margot Robbie's performance, and Tonya's triple axel says it all, you don't really need to fit into the norms to do something great, which is exactly what this film does. It creates a unique sense of an "I don't give a flying fuck about your sensibilities" style, while balancing unique and dark humour, with emotion for a woman who tried to send death threats to her friend. This is simply put, the Triple Axel of 2017 films.
This was cracking entertainment. Wickedly sharp and funny. I love movies where you can't really trust what any of the protagonists tell you, leaving you to peace together the truth for yourself. This was that.
This movie was fantastic in exposing the hard life Tonya Harding endured. I was worried it would be more of a satire making fun of Tonya, but it made dun of the situation and the ironic hypocrisy in figure skating. I never liked Nancy Kerrigan and always felt Tonya got a raw deal.
Some excellent performances, in a movie that smartly makes light of the whole situation. It's interesting to see all sides of the story, and it helps build a better understanding of what actually happened and what kind of people these are. I was entertained.
I am baffled that this film happened in the first place, which is a credit to the people that made it. After all you take a whole pile of really crappy people and have them do an awful thing to an unsuspecting person.... and then you make a film about it?
For the first 45 minutes I was a little unsure about the film but then it started to come together for me. The following helped:
Nobody is painted in a good light here
It is a dark comedy
At some point you feel bad for most of the characters (which is a testament to how awful the other characters are)
At no point does it take itself too seriously
It does not pretend to tell you what actually happened
At times it breaks down the fourth wall
The following did not help:
They dressed up Margo Robbie to look like Harding. Very, very distracting.
I don't know that this story needed to be told (and truthfully, I don't really know that it actually was told). All in all they did an amazing job telling the story of a very said lot.
Margot is the best. I love her.She makes me laugh and have all kinds of emotions.This movie was really good.The actors did a great job.The actual story is so crazy and I'm glad they could make a movie of it.
Way better than i expected with some great perfomances good sense of humor and nice editing.Margot probably deserves an oscar in this one!
What a difficult subject matter. What a tragic story. This story is drawn with black and white lines, only toward the climax do we see internal conflict and depth of realization, when that was allowed, the acting was brilliant, but the script veered away from that layered examination. Unfortunately, I feel the writing skirted the edges of making everything charicatures, a cartoon, even in the way they used makeup and exaggerated slow motion action. I give this film a 7 (good performances) out of 10.
Sensational performances for the dark comedy of the year.
Un pseudo biopic. Un pseudo film de sport. Une pseudo comédie grinçante des frères Coen.
Hella fun way to tell a biopic, Margot Robbie should have her Oscar by now, Allison Janney' character stands out as the most insane mother in film history. Julianne Nicholson portrayal of Tonya's coach is so classy i loved her in it.
From presentation, to music to performance, excellent movie.
Fantastic movie. Great acting and excellent production.
You do have to be old enough to remember this event. During the film, many of the players talk about how it was a world event but it does pay to remember a world event is usually tomorrow’s ‘huh?’ No one in my immediate family, apart from my wife, had any idea what I was talking about when I mentioned this film and it’s story. It is forgotten in this day an age.
Certainly, at the time, the media sensationalised what was in truth a sordid event which turned out to be so petty and pathetic that it could only have ever been filmed in this mockumentary style. Amazingly what happened had little bearing on the competitors involved until the court case.
Harding’s story is told from the point of view of Tonya herself, her ex-husband and her estranged mother and at no point are we led by the nose to say who is telling the truth. I actually liked that about this film. We have to make our own mind up.
Margot Robbie definitely brings Harding to life and does not sugarcoat her side of the story. She is a victim of her mother who shapes her warped outlook on the world but nevertheless she is still mean and vindictive too – was she made that way or was that nature already there? Only you can decide. Likewise, her mother is allowed a voice and again she isn’t sugarcoated, she’s mean and tough but she does have a motive for it. Alison Janney brings her tremendous talent to this role and you could not have asked for a better actor to bring the ‘wicked-witch’ to the screen but somehow get sympathy for her. It’s a tough life and she had to be tough – maybe not that tough, but you know the reason.
Sebastian Stan and Paul Walter Hauser play the almost Laurel and Hardiesque team of the vicious husband Jeff and the truly idiotic fantasist Shawn. I have to admit that the crime that these two perpetrated was mean and vicious and could have ended Kerrigan’s career and even mobility permanently but even bearing this mind their portrayal at times had me laughing more than any full-on comedy. In particularly Hauser’s portrayal of the so stupid, it hurts bodyguard and hitman was a triumph. More problematical is the role of Jeff, was he a violent abuser or was Harding painting him in a bad light to take the spotlight off her? Who knows the real truth? Real abusers never own up to it and her description of events does fit in with exactly how abusive relationships work out. But you do have to make your own mind up.
Having a North American relative who was involved in figure skating I have been told first hand about the snobbery and how the cards are stacked in favour of certain competitors no matter what. In fact, he left to train people instead because the competition was truly uncompetitive. So Tonya Harding’s frustration at the way she was treated despite her talent rings true. She did complete that triple-axel no matter what anyone else says.
Did she have prior knowledge? Was she treated unfairly in the aftermath? Unfortunately, if you read comments on this film and the events involved then the American public, in particular, have made their minds up. Me? I’m not so sure. You? Well watch the film, do a bit of reading, put your prejudices to one side, and make your own mind up. I think as a film in this respect it’s mission accomplished.
The skating scenes involving Robbie are magnificently the done and the overall feel of the film, with regard to the time-period and attitudes more than often hits the mark than misses. Is it fair to the real-life participants in this affair? Who really knows but I think the film-makers really tried their hardest to be fair.
Overall this is a great fun movie about a fairly serious topic and it does make you laugh, wince and even cry at the right moments without being jarring. In my view that is a very hard thing to pull off, most films that try this fail.
I, Tonya is a great entertaining film, has it shed a new light on the Nancy Kerrigan event? Well it has brought the public back to the event for a short-while to discuss it and it does not lead you by the nose – so as the film says also, I say make your own mind up.
Ice skating isn't my thing - memories of holding onto the rails for dear life while people were whizzing around me on the ice - completely put me off for life when I was younger. As a result, I didn't want to risk my life again, let alone follow the sport. The controversy around Harding and Kerrigan bypassed me, so while I managed to pick up bits of info just before the film's release, I didn't know how it ended. And what an end! For the sake of people who don't know the denouement, I am not going to go into spoilers.
I enjoyed the film. Robbie, Stan, and Janney aced their characters. It made me watch YouTube videos of the real life stories behind the film, and it ignited an interest into this most icy of Olympic sports. It hasn't inspired me to get back on the ice, of course. The film was great, but it can't perform miracles.
I couldn’t help but wonder “did this movie really need to be made?” throughout the whole thing. Didn’t leave much of an impressio. Everything about it is average.
A thoroughly real story (fitting, since it's based on true events) filled with bleak, dark humour that would leave you feeling for Tonya Harding. Margot Robbie portrays the disgraced and misunderstood character in all her unapologetic brilliance and HOW. So entertaining, so witty, and so, so real.
Nice movie, but nothing exceptional. Tonya character is extremely well played by Allison Janney. It tries to put out a simple message: It’s not far to judge someone without taking into account his circumstances. The sentence for Tonya was extremely biased due the spinning news and hypocrisy.
How may Wall Street bankers have been banned from their profession for life due to malpractice that lead to the mortgage crash that hurt many more people worse that whatever Tanya did.
Heavily one sided account of "that" incident. The film makes for uncomfortable viewing at times and you really do feel for Tonya throughout her life. Entertaining film and an interesting insight to one of the greatest sporting controversies of the last 20 years.
Great biopic alternates from comedy to drama. The theme might be when you come from this background, it is very hard to escape....even if you have a superpower...and she did. You could also say it is that your ambition may outdistance your grasp. It's a cautionary tale that literally was inevitable. A movie you will find yourself thinking about days later.
Nothing special, for rest of the world (besides U.S.) that issue was just another TV news that has faded away years ago so the story doesn't have any "catchy" things, besides being just well played paradocument.
Could easily be labelled a reimagining of "To die for"...Except it's true! 8/10 or a skatey
Way too much camera talk. I like her performance. Pretty energetic film