I have always carried great enthusiasm when it came to biographical movies. It was no surprise that I would celebrate the three Academy nominations of I, Tonya with equal amounts of excitement. Originally titled as biographical movie, comedy and drama, to me, I, Tonya is much more of a “mockumentary”.
As a stranger to the original story, I tried not to absorb many details about the real story before seeing the film in order to evaluate the writing skills of Steven Rogers in a more accurate and objective way. Writer, Steven Rogers, successfully managed to adapt the very brief career of Tonya Harding into I, Tonya without compromising the film’s energetic flow and pace.
Margot Robbie is a brilliant casting choice for Tonya Harding. She once again proved how amazing of a character actress she is. Her versatile performance was applaudable and very capturing. Sebastian Stan shined throughout the film as well. In my opinion, “Jeff Gillooly” is now the most memorable performance of his career. It is safe to consider Allison Janey’s “LaVona” performance as the highlight of the film. She also carries a well deserved nomination for the “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” in Oscars tonight.
Dynamic shots in the film is one of the reasons why it managed to entertain the audience despite its repetitive story and niche overall plot. Tatiana S. Riegel did an incredible job on editing and the techniques she used was unique for a biographical film and truly gave it a cinematic feel.
Throughtout the movie, each character breaks the 4th wall in an incredible way. Every time the audience hears “Yeah, I did that” or “No I didn’t do that” it makes each person think deeper and even question the honesty of characters, no matter how well they might think they know them. 4th wall sequences became a disturbing element of the film during the violence scenes. Watching a domestic violence with a humorous tone was not a comfortable experience for me personally and has its pros and cons on a film like this.
If I had to consider each element of this film separately, it could be my favorite Oscar contending movie but when the film puts all these inventive ideas together, I, Tonya becomes just a solid movie to watch and enjoy.
Tonya Harding, a talented 3 year old skater, was not lucky enough to have a healthy mother-daughter relationship growing up. Despite having an abusive mother, Tonya was on the realization that she was not the stereotypical figure skater. When she married Jeff Gillooly, he was not only going to destroy her personal life but is also going to destroy everyhing that Tonya had.
This talented olympic figure skater who “never apologised for growing up poor and being a redneck” believed getting abused was just a regular flow of her life. She had already abused by her mother, how “getting abused by her husband could be any worse” according to her. If her mother both loved and punished her thus her husband could do the same.
Problems she has faced in her personal life did not stop her from getting medals but each up and down damaged her relationships. When she finally leaves her husband, Jeff decides to earn her love back and this is where the breaking point occurs. Nancy Kerrigan incident.
“I was loved for a minute, then I was hated. Then I was just a punch line.”
She talks about her ended career in a way to similar to her relationship with her husband which had also up and downs ‘til they got divorced. After her prohibition from skating she started doing what she have been doing since her childhood: Fighting.
Perhaps the most powerful moment in the film comes with these simple lines.
“They got 18 months. I’ll do that. Your honor. I don’t have education. All I know is skating. I’m no one if I’m can’t- I’m not this monster. I’m trying to do the best with what I know how to-. It’s like you’re giving me a life sentence. You can’t do that.”
Overall, I, Tonya is a solid and enjoyable film. The story has some powerful moments. The directing is unique and the writing brings together elements from multiple genres to combine into one amalgamation of a real person’s life. I, Tonya is nominated for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Achievement in Film Editing.