Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Movie Review: I, Tonya

The wild true story of the controversial Olympic skater is an entertaining biopic. The film frames the story of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) through a series of interviews It begins with extreme childhood training at the behest of Tonya's chain-smoking mother Lavona Golden (Allison Janney) who convinces her trainer Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) to take her on at the age of three. Lavone downplays the abuse as Tonya remembers endless days on the rink not even being allowed to leave when she needs to pee so she wets herself and is commanded to continue skating. Tonya grows up and becomes a better skater but her mother's confrontational personality rubs off on her as she challenges other skaters for space on the rink. 

She meets Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and begins to fall for him much to her mother's chagrin. Lavona accompanies them on their first date and pries into their relationship. Tonya and Jeff grow closer moving towards marriage despite Lavona's disapproval. Jeff starts to abuse Tonya but she is used to this sort of treatment after leaving with her abusive mother. Tonya's skating improves and she becomes the first female skater to land two triple axels. She prepares to enter the Olympics but disagrees with her trainer Diane and fires her. Her mother continues to motivate her by paying fans to insult her. Tonya does not find success failing to stick her landings and leaving the Olympics without a medal. 

Tonya returns home and has a rough time with Jeff. She takes up a job as a waitress just like her mother. Jeff becomes even more possessive as she tries to leave him and the violence erupts. Their altercations grow ever more violent with Jeff even threatening her with a gun. Tonya returns to him time after time but she also reengages with her skating after Diane convinces her to try for the next Olympics. She is thrown off during a performance when she receives a death threat which gives Jeff a unique idea. He approaches his best friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser) and comes up with an idiotic plan to threaten Tonya's rival Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). 

Shawn hires to imbeciles to send letters to Nancy but they take it a step too far and break her leg. The two men are arrested and it sparks an FBI investigation which leads back to Shawn. He pretends to be an expert in spycraft but easily cracks under pressure and blames Jeff for the whole plan even trying to trap with a wire in the Golden Buddha that I used to eat at in my college years, though it's set in Oregon. Tonya fails again at the Olympics begging the judges to let her tie her skate She comes in eighth while Nancy earns the silver medal, though she's not happy about it. Jeff learns that Tonya ratted him out and he returns the favor. Even Lavone returns to pretend to make up with her daughter only to be recording the conversation. As the men around her go to jail, she is banned from skating so she takes up boxing not shying away from being controversy.

I, Tonya is one of the more entertaining biopics but not only is the story incredibly crazy but the performances are wonderful. Margot Robbie is brilliant as Harding while Allison Janney should definitely win the award for Best Supporting Actress. Sebastian Stan stunned me as well while Hauser's Shawn is a great comedic relief. The film is tragic and funny like the story and a piece of history that I was too young to remember. The film moves at a brisk pace but retains it's humor and a ton of interesting story details that may or may not be true. 

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