Don Reviews "I, Tonya"
Every generation has those “remember where you were” moments that defined an era. For people that have lived in my lifetime, they run the gambit from September 11th, 2001 to landmark elections that changed the landscape of our society to the subject of Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya” in the craziness of timelines leading up to the 1994 Winter Games.
Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus) stars as Tonya Harding alongside Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Logan Lucky), Allison Janney (Juno, The Help), Caitlin Carver (Paper Towns, Heroes Reborn), Ricky Russert (Banshee, Slip), and Paul Walter Hauser (Kingdom, Super troopers). Filmed in a mockumentary style, it tells the story through theoretic interviews, dramatizations, and reproduced news footage of the life and times of Harding. There are also interviews from her mother LaVona Harding (Janney) and Tonya’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Stan) as it chronicles her growing up with the abuse of her mother, the marriage to Jeff, the attack on Nancy Kerrigan in January of 1994, her skating career, and how the figure skating establishment was seemingly against her not fitting the mold of the stereotypical skater.
This film translates the documentary style well, combining the interviews with the narrative to enhance the story. After a while, I felt I was watching an actual documentary. I also the style of doing split screens, showing two different interviews at the same time to compare and contrast what different characters saw in the story from their side. There are three main roles here: Tonya, her mother, and ex-husband. The supporting cast does well in their roles and compliment the story, but to the headlining three are incredible. I can honestly see some acting nominations for Janney and Robbie for sure (both have already nominated for a Golden Globe); I have to give it to these two ladies, playing the roles perfectly. I would not be surprised if Janney does not win the big one this coming award season.
I recently watched the “30 for 30” on this subject, “The Price of Gold,” and this compares and compliments it very well. There are some adult situations and language in this film, so be warned, but it is still good and the adult situations actually add to the film. This film in a way reminded me of “Weiner” where I wanted to feel for the person, but they just keep self-destructing. I felt bad for Tonya in this film due to her upbringing not being a sweet little darling in the skating world and still tries to succeed against the odds, but she also keeps shooting herself in the knee (pun intended) at the same time. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack, with are some great songs from the era that really keeps things moving. I truly was surprised how much I liked this film, I and I will definitely recommend it, with it even having a slight shot of making my Top Ten of the year. I am gladly giving this film the coveted full price in the theaters recommendation.