“I, Tonya” is the story of olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, the unapologetic, self proclaimed redneck whose story took the media, and the world by storm. Although “I, Tonya” is an undeniably funny film, this is really an extremely sad story, filled with abuse and misguidance beginning with her mother at a very young age. Surprisingly director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”), and writer Steve Rogers (“Hope Floats”), decide to start this film after the events that we all know occurred in this insanely true story. The film balances very well by shifting between the events as they happened, and showing reenactments of the interviews with Tonya harding, her now ex-husband Jeff Gilooly, and her mother LaVona Goldman. It seems that Gillespie sets out to try and redeem Harding for the actions that had taken place despite the skewed view of her the media had portrayed.
It is here that Margot Robbie truly shines as the almost super human athlete, who because of her vulgar mouth, low income upbringing, and homemade costumes would ultimately never be aloud to reach her true potential. Robbie gives the best performance of her career really putting on display the anger and pain that this young woman had been put through her entire life. First by her mother, brilliantly played by Allison Janney an abusive alcoholic who tells more people fuck off in this film than I have in the last month. A woman whose life has never gone right, so she decides to take Tonyas life into her own hands by forcing her to skate competitively, eventually taking her out of school leaving Tonya with nothing else to lean on. Janney’s ability to show the humanity in a human who seemed to never love another person is simply amazing and deserves best supporting actress award in every possible way.
Harding eventually cannot handle her mothers abusiveness and leaves with boyfriend Jeff Gilooly, played by Sebastian Stan a dorky kind of meek guy who seems sweet at first but ends up being just as abusive as Hardings mother. Joined by Jeff’s idiot friend Shawn, played by Paul Walter Hauser who I have never seen in anything before, surprisingly stole the show in nearly every scene he was in. His ability to compulsively lie no matter who he was talking to was both disgusting and hilarious at the same time.
The makeup team on this film definitely deserves some kind of award, anyone who can make me question my undying attraction to Margot Robbie must be very good at their job. All jokes aside the ability to take Margot Robbie and do a pretty convincing job of having her play Tonya from the age of 15, all the way to 40 is extremely impressive. The aging of Allison Janney is also impeccable and something that should not go unnoticed by the academy.
Gillespie also does an admirable job with skating scenes using CGI and other cinema magic to make Tonyas amazing gift very apparent. He also does a good job of balancing on the thin line of not really making fun of Tonya despite her insane qualities. Some may be upset that their 24-year opinion of Mrs. Harding may change but at least they will be laughing almost the entire time.