Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
Last night, I finally saw I, Tonya, and I was not disappointed in the slightest.
The way this movie was filmed is one of my favorite things about it, honestly. It’s set up as a mockumentary, with each character giving their version of the truth. We are shown the subject matter that each is discussing, and the fourth wall is broken within those flashbacks over and over again. The fourth wall breaks help to seamlessly weave the interview segments into the film.
The soundtrack to the film was filled with hit after hit, with perfect placement for each song. My favorite song placements, by far, were for Cliff Richard’s “Devil Woman”, which plays when we first meet Tonya’s mother, LaVona Golden, played by Allison Janney, and Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger”, which plays when Tonya is leaving her husband. The whole thing is perfection.
This films strongest element, by far, though, is the acting, with both Allison Janney and Margot Robbie giving tremendous performances. Also notable are Sebastian Stan’s performance as Jeff Gillooly, and Paul Walter Hauser’s performance as the forever irritating Shawn Eckhardt.
My general feelings towards Allison Janney is that she should be rewarded for every acting performance that she gives in every film ever because she is just phenomenal. But, let’s talk about Margot Robbie portraying “Figure Skating Villain” Tonya Harding for a moment. Robbie gives a mind blowing performance here. I have said repeatedly that the best performances are the ones where you forget about the actor that you are seeing on the screen. The best performances are when the actor is no longer there. The character is real and you are invested in them. And that is Robbie’s performance in this film. She is Tonya Harding. Towards the end of the film is a scene that will forever remain on my list of Best Acting Moments in Film (if I even have such a list), and that is the moment when Tonya is putting on her makeup, just before skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics. The camera is placed in a medium close-up, Tonya facing it dead on. And, she’s just applying her makeup. But, it’s the emotions that run across her face that astonish me. To be able to portray what Harding must have been feeling before the Olympics that year, that’s true talent and it is truly heartbreaking to watch.
My biggest worry when I had first heard about this film was who would they paint to be the villain? Who would they paint to be the hero? What truth would be bent? I was pleased to find out that the answers were no one, no one, and hardly any. The thing is about the whole Harding/Kerrigan situation is that only the people involved know what truly happened. The story, I feel, has changed so many times, that we’re never really going to know how involved certain people were. The public has repeatedly been told one thing by Gillooly, and another by Harding. I don’t think we’ll ever really know the truth of the situation. And, that’s the beauty of this film. It shows everybody’s version of the truth. It’s up to us, the audience, to decide for ourselves who we want to believe.