Claudio Says I, TONYA Is The Perfect Platform For Margot Robbie To Show Off

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The story of Tonya Harding is not one that I was familiar with until hearing about this movie. It’s the kind of story you hear and can’t believe that adults would act in this way, until you realize that a lot of the party involved were about the same age as me. Tonya Harding was wisped into a world that didn’t want her as she reached for her dream of skating in the Olympics. From the release of the trailers I expected a “Wolf of Wallstreet-esque” tone, but placed in the ice skating realm. The film did deliver this and more, but had some trouble making it to the finish line. “I, Tonya” stars Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan, and is directed by Craig Gillespie.

The movie sets itself up as one giant flashback as the characters are being interviewed about “the incident.” Tonya Harding’s mother is a diner waitress trying to get her daughter a better life by exploiting her talents as a figure skater. In the process she’s bombarded as a child by her mother’s unrelenting and vicious “support” to be the best. The film paints what most would call a real life villain in Tonya Harding as a victim of her upbringing. It doesn’t help her situation when she falls in love with Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan, who turns out to be a competitor in the “how hard can I hit a women”, challenging LaVonna for her title. The entire story leads up to the faithful day that Tonya’s olympic rival, Nancy Kerrigan, is attacked and suspicion is placed on the entire Harding team.

Probably the strongest aspect of this movie is the acting by the entire cast. You don’t like Allison Janney as Lavona Harding at all. By that I mean the portrayal of the famed mother is so wicked and disgusting that you can’t help but hate. Her chemistry with Robbie is what lets you sympathize with Tonya to begin with, regardless on what side you land of the whole incident. There are moments that you begin to think that they’ve finally gotten to a good place in their relationship, but Lavonna is quick to remind what a horrible person she is. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Tonya comes off as vulnerable, but tough. The filmmakers do a great job of showing what a rock the character is when facing hardships in her life like her abusive mother and husband. Her performance is raw and matches up well with the real life person. While acknowledging her job in “Wolf of Wall Street”, this is by far her best role in her career; that’s right, it’s not Harley Quinn!

The first hour and a half definitely keeps you entertained as its raunchy humor is combined with a fairly quick pace. It’s not until the hour and a half mark that I found myself looking at my watch a lot. I just felt like once we got to “the incident” the film tried to cover way too much of the aftermath and took a big departure from the pace of the first two acts and dragged. The writing team does a great job of building suspense and relationships, but blew their load at once, deflating the entire ending.

The ending aside, this film is a great vehicle to give Margot Robbie and Allison Janney the award recognition they deserve. This also may be the most intense acting I’ve seen come from Sebastian Stan since the first he and his lover, Steve Rogers, first locked eyes. The film definitely tiptoes through the real life question if Tonya maybe kind of sort of but not really knew about the attack before it happened, which could be controversial depending on your outlook of the situation. As a film, it’s good character piece weighed down by some uneven pacing.

Final Word