I, Tonya Screen 59 of 8 reviews

I, Tonya

2017

I, Tonya Poster
  • In her 30s, Harding turned to celebrity boxing to pay the bills, depicted in I, Tonya's gruesome final scene. . . . But even more wrenching is the only footage of the real Harding shown in the film, over the end credits: she's performing her 1991 nationals routine and, radiant, lands her historic triple axel. With this, I, Tonya seems to implicate the viewer in Harding's cultural abasement, rhetorically asking: It should've been about the skating, but you didn't really care about that, did you?

  • The movie alternately embraces and deconstructs the “white trash versus ice princess” narrative circulated by supposedly respectable (and not at all respectable) journalists. But more than just a campy retelling of a shopworn tabloid tale, Steven Rogers’s screenplay also demonstrates how Harding’s story (much like the O.J. Simpson trial) is a skeleton key to understanding the celebrity-obsessed media and our Trump-era, post-Brexit reality.

  • To see Robbie here, insecure and yet also FEROCIOUS, a ferocious competitor, beaten by her mother, her husband, an unloved child, an unloved young woman … it’s really fun to watch her get a role she can sink her teeth into. She’s terrific. She’s been ice skating for much of her life, too, so she does a lot (not all, but a lot) of her own skating. This helps enormously.

  • I don't really think this movie works at all, and it's intended referential audience target doesn't land, but Margot Robbie is that good, and the skating sequences have a jolting rhythm that's easy to get swept up in. I just wish it had more of that propulsive energy that was apparent during Tonya's skating instead of aiming on being a Coens bumbling con artist tale, which they pull off with the grace of a CBS made for tv movie.

  • As “I, Tonya” skips here and there and thickens the plot, it becomes increasingly baffling why the filmmakers decided to put a comic spin on this pathetic, dispiriting story. No matter how hard the movie tries to coax out laughs, there’s little about Ms. Harding, her circumstances or her choices that skews as funny.

  • These scenes represent I, Tonya at its best and worst, making a content, middle-aged Harding seem wounded, masterfully self-aware, and mercilessly cynical about the American public. The film’s habit of courting and then insulting the viewer is a conscious nod to the cycles of abuse that mark Harding’s story, but the filmmakers’ attempts to implicate their audience are I, Tonya’s broken shoelace, too pat and glib to be convincing.

  • Repeatedly breaking the fourth wall, the film undams a torrent of redundant dialogue and music choices. Director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers spell out again and again the movie’s obvious points—about class bias, domestic violence, the rigid policing of femininity in sports, America. An intended black seriocomedy curdles into garish burlesque. The biopic becomes the biohazard.

  • Gillespie’s flashy camera moves on and off the ice, his slick and rapid editing tricks, and his intercutting of interviews and asides don’t provide perspective but rather amusement, even diversion, distracting from what’s actually a crucial and anguished subject of the movie, the abuse that Tonya endures. But Gillespie plays it for comedy.

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