KYLE Says I, TONYA Is Wonderfully Entertaining.

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FILM REVIEW: I, TONYA

BY KYLE ARANGO

I, Tonya is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars Margot Robbie, Alison Janney, Sebastian Stan, Paul Walter Hauser, Julianne Nicholson, and Caitlin Carver. It tells the story of Tonya Harding, and her career both before, and after the notorious incident involving Nancy Kerrigan. There were many conflicting reports as to what was actually true with this wild story. Question was, could a full-length movie be able to tell the right story about Tonya Harding? The answer is absolutely yes! This is a fascinating film with knockout performances all over. They told this story both right and fair while making it an entertaining film.

To begin, I did not know what to expect going into I, Tonya. I was not born yet when these events took place, so I had no idea what this story was about or what we were leading to. What I got was an intriguing story about not only Tonya Harding’s life, but also the culture of the Olympics and society as a whole. When I was finished watching, I immediately got on my phone to find out more about what had happened with this “incident”. What I found was exactly what the movie showed me, a mess of conflicting reports. This is funny because the movie does not set out to be a true telling of the “incident”. At the beginning, the film basically tells you “this may or may not be true, we have some evidence, take it as you will”. To me, that is a brilliant way to grab the audience’s attention at the beginning because now they want to see what is going on. Director Craig Gillespie does a wonderful job of cutting back and forth between the actual story, and the characters doing a documentary interview commenting on what is happening. So, we may see something in one scene and then cut to Tonya’s mother saying, “That’s not how it happened at all”. I loved most of the decisions this movie made.

The standouts in I, Tonya that make this movie so enjoyable are the performances. Sebastian Stan gives the best performance he has ever given in his young career here in this film. He plays Tonya’s husband and does such a convincing job as a clearly damaged man. Alison Janney is quickly turning into Hollywood’s most reliable actress and here she nearly steals the movie. She plays Tonya’s mother and makes you watch her every time she is on screen. She does a brilliant job at being a terrible person who, at the end of the day, just wants her daughter to succeed because she loves her so much, although she may not show it. Expect some awards to come her way. Finally, Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding gives the performance of her lifetime. She proves that she can carry a movie as the leading woman, and become a character who is very difficult to embody. In I, Tonya, she submits herself as one of the best actresses working today, and definitely has awards in her future whether it be for this movie or another further down the line.

Another thing I really enjoyed here is this film’s sense of humor and its themes. It is surprisingly funny and gets many laughs consistently. The characters don’t tell jokes, they are just funny by nature and it works so well in this film. You laugh at things you feel like you shouldn’t be, but don’t care because it is so hysterical. As far as themes go, I was really intrigued by the story revolving around the Olympics. Tonya had a tough time in Figure Skating even though she could clearly outskate everyone because she did “not fit the image they were looking for”. She does her best to fit in, but seems to always fall victim to the system because of who she is. I found this to be so amazing to watch unfold and couldn’t wait to see where it led.

While I may seem like I’m gushing about this movie, I did have some problems with a few things. The biggest problem I had, was the pacing towards the end of the film. This movie starts out hot and is able to carry that momentum for most of the way, but by the end, it started to feel its length. I believe this is because it feels like this film has two climaxes. I enjoyed both climaxes, but I thought the movie was beginning to wrap up, and it didn’t. Something else that I believe may bother some people is that the “Incident” was the least interesting part of the movie. I was more interested in Tonya’s upbringing and career then I was with what happened to Nancy Kerrigan. I do stress to audiences to not just go see this movie looking for the incident because there is so much rich story surrounding it that I found to be more interesting.

At the end if it all, I, Tonya is a wonderfully entertaining movie with a great story and fascinating turns. The performances here are mesmerizing, especially Alison Janney and Margot Robbie who could not be better. This is one of my favorite sports biopics now and highly recommend this movie. It will be expanding soon to a theater near you and when it does, go out and see I, Tonya.

 

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