Review I, Tonya – Allison Janney

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.

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More than about tabloid trash, this movie should be watched

On the whole, ‘I, Tonya’ is an imperfect biopic about an imperfect woman. Do watch it though, especially for Janney’s sterling performance.

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.

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