I, Tonya

I, Tonya ★★

Condescending, unfunny, and kinda gross—director Craig Gillespie’s mockumentary-style biopic about the life of the infamous Tonya Harding never becomes an homage or a tribute, but more like a self-parody of a woman’s tragic life. I, Tonya has so many problems which it all came from Gillespie’s uninspired direction. Drawing influences from the films of Martin Scorsese and David O. Russell—the film is nothing but unoriginal and tiresome. The music alone is overwhelming that it leaves no surprise or trust for its audience to digest what’s happening. The fourth wall narrations lack depth and quite unnecessary. The other technical aspects are good (the editing is commendable), but it’s the motives of Gillespie that what makes I, Tonya so problematic.

Tonya Harding lived a hard life. Parental abuse, domestic abuse, violence, poverty have all came for Tonya and this film I, Tonya did nothing to at least give her some decency and/or respect. A film that makes fun of a person’s abusive past is not funny and certainly, not entertaining. Whether I believe she did know what’s up or not, I believe that Tonya Harding is one strong woman after all she has been through but I, Tonya is not a good vehicle to display all of that. In the end, it’s the men that controls, breaks and rules everything while leaving women in despair and broken.

The main attraction to see I, Tonya is the transformative, daring performance of Margot Robbie who do everything she can to elevate this piece of mess. Robbie’s choices as Harding is both emotive and psychological, she rightly pulls back in time when she’s asking for our sympathy. It’s a cool, measured performance. I don’t understand the acclaim for Allison Janney’s supporting performance, because it’s utterly broad, loud, and one-dimensional. A conniving bitch with no remorse or anything—the film doesn’t give her some layers to play with. While I’m new seeing Sebastian Stan, and though he’s handsome on screen, he’s just unwatchable as Harding’s abusive husband. Stan is trying hard to be cool and menacing, but fails in the end. Julianne Nicholson gives a strong impression as Tonya's coach.

Overall, I, Tonya is no Goodfellas of figure skating as they’re saying. Except for Margot Robbie's strong turn, this is a perfect example of a disposable Oscar-bait film.

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