Sunday, January 14, 2018

I, Tonya

Movie Name: I, Tonya
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janey, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, McKenna Grace, Jason Davis, Caitlin Carver
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Director Craig Gillespie is back, and in fine form, following two previous films that were met with a somewhat tepid response (following his celebrated start with "Lars and the Real Girl" and his impeccable remake of "Fright Night"). "I, Tonya" is a dark comedy, detailing the life of American ice skater, Tonya Harding. The film chronicles her life, from the time she was a child, through her convoluted upbringing, with her mother always demanding more from her, particularly when it came to her attention and focus on ice skating. By the time she turns into a teenager, Tonya falls in love and into an abusive relationship with Jeff Gillooly, just as her range and accomplishments in the ice ring get progressively more successful. The story continues to track Harding's experiences in professional ice skating, until the scandal surrounding the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan, at the Winter Olympics of 1994, and how it involved people who surrounded Tonya, namely her ex-husband, and a mutual acquaintance of both, Shawn, a young man with delusions of grandeur.
"I, Tonya" is a film that captures with a deep irony, how public perceptions are built, and how troubled and damaged upbringings can cast a deep shadow on someone's life. Craig Gillespie, employs a documentary style of approach in depicting the events taking place, but allows the actors to break the fourth wall, particularly the stupendous Margot Robbie, who addresses the audience, demystifying a lot of the events that occurred or that are being depicted. It's a film that walks a fine line between being tragic and comedic, with the latter always vanquishing, but Margot Robbie manages to infuse the character with a heart and a pain that comes across in every single smile and dour expression she gives. The overall cast is fantastic, particularly the always remarkable Allison Janey, Julianne Nicholson and Sebastian Stan. It's an inventive, funny, and deeply humane character study, which makes for a really rewarding watch. Highly recommended.