Release year: 2017
Director: Craig Gillespie
Screenwriter: Steven Rogers
Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale
Ratings: 1 Oscar: best Supporting Actress (Allison Janney). 2 Oscar nominations: Best Actress (Margot Robbie), Best Film Editing. 1 Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress (Allison janney). 2 Golden Globe nominations: Best Picture Comedy/Musical, Best Actress Comedy/Musical (Margot Robbie).
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding (Robbie) rises to fame with her skills but a troubled private life and bad decisions put her career at risk.
Quite controversial, I, Tonya tells the story of one of America’s most hated personalities from her point of view, giving sympathy to the ice skater by showing us the abusive behavior she was subject for, first at the hand of her mother and later her husband. Based in interviews with Tonya Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, the movie plays like a mixture between a dark comedy and a mockumentary where Tonya occasionally breaks the fourth wall. The disagreement between Tonya and Jeff tells us they are unreliable, but it is still interesting watching the way social heritage can be hard to break away from. Even though the movie shows sympathy for Tonya, it still shows her bad sides and as it also makes it clear, that everyone lies and blames others, it is not a movie which makes Tonya a wrongly accused hero. It is a movie which finds dark humour in a real-life situation and in the contradictory of the interviews of the involved. But it is also a movie about an interesting character in recent American history, a character made particular interesting by a great performance by Robbie (Suicide Squad, 2016). With this, Mary Queen of Scots (2018) and the upcoming Barbie (2020) movie, Robbie has become a talented actress you never know what to expect from, except it is always well-played. Her turn as Tonya is slightly overshadowed by that of Janney (Juno, 2007) who won an Oscar for her turn as Tonya’s abusive mother, but it doesn’t make it any less good. The strong performances are undoubtedly the biggest asset of a movie which, like many other in documentary style, suffers from the inconsistency of the storyline constantly broken up by interviews and which makes it drag a bit at times.
Although a member of an amateur ice hockey league, Margot Robbie did not have that much skating experience before taking on the role. She trained extensively for the role, she was not able to perform a triple axel, nor could a skating double be found to do so, as very few women figure skaters are able to perform the jump. Producer Tom Ackerley stated, “There has been only six women since Tonya Harding who have done a triple axel, even if there was one who was doing it today, she’d be training for the Olympics and couldn’t risk doing it for the film.” The jump was accomplished with the use of visual effects.
Picture copyrights: NF Film