remolano’s review published on Letterboxd:
Didn’t think this film would do so much for me, but it did.
Somehow Tilda Swinton simultaneously plays none of the characters and two of the characters, and somehow they made the Margot Robbie look not hot.
I, Tonya is a more than well-rounded biopic with great performances, smart writing, gripping pacing, and the confident personality I always like to see in films - especially like these. It actually reminded me a lot of Adam McKay’s The Big Short: breaks the fourth wall, dwells in an actively frustrating narrative, and elevates with impeccable acting end to end. I recognize the constant similarities to Scorsese as well.
It’s gritty around the edges and vulnerable at its core. The direction is relentless. I love how silly things get in between though, as the serious subject matters the film involves itself with is treated to sincere examination, but also to blatant stupidity. Stan’s Jeff Gillooly and Hauser’s Shawn Eckhardt are both gruelingly upsetting and laughably clueless. The whole incident and its execution is of course - a terrible situation, but also portrayed in such a fun way (with the lack of a better word).
There’s a very strong amount of heart in the film to flex its depth, especially with Harding’s struggles involving abuse and reputation, but also the right balance of freedom in the film’s craft. Just like the story it paints, I, Tonya loves to break all the rules. I thought Da 5 Bloods did poorly with de-aging (by literally not using it), but the film goes to an explicitly 15 year old Tonya Harding with Margot Robbie, a full-grown woman I might add, playing her. Why that’s so funny I’ll never know. The film also loves to poke fun at the truth (another reminder to me of The Big Short) and confidently embraces the complete insanity surrounding it. Getting stabbed by a thrown steak knife is the best way to win an argument apparently.
Above all else, Allison Janney yelling, “what the fuck happened to my storyline,” or whatever she said will forever be the greatest moment in this movie. I, Tonya is drenched with immense versatility as an unapologetic character study and as a formidable black comedy. More films like this please.
Dove Bars. 8/10.