In a season when ladies started telling their abuse tales en masse, Margot Robbie lands a superbly timed triple-axel of a efficiency as Tonya Harding, famed figure-skater-turned-national-joke. Profane, darkly humorous, violent and tragic, Craig Gillespie’s unconventional biopic chronicles the uber-American story of an Olympic competitor who shot to notoriety after being implicated within the 1994 kneecapping of her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
It additionally offers long-lacking context to Harding’s rough-edged, awkward persona: a backdrop of relentless home violence.
Anybody sufficiently old to recollect the incident shall be acquainted with the key gamers: Harding, her mustachioed ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and her dumb-as-rocks bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser). However until you’re actually well-versed in Harding lore, you most likely gained’t know the importance of one other character: her abusive, hard-driving waitress mom LaVona, performed by Allison Janney with each relish and chilling brutality.
The movie, which says it’s primarily based on true and “irony-free” interviews with all concerned, cuts between documentary-style confessionals and normal biopic narrative. Janney practically walks off with the movie in LaVona’s current-day segments, perched on a sofa with an oxygen tube in her nostril, whiskey in hand and a parrot on her shoulder. Bobby Cannavale provides colour as a sleazy “Onerous Copy” reporter wanting again on the tabloid story that simply saved giving.
However no person can pull focus from Robbie, an intense actress lastly sinking her enamel right into a meaty function as a lady who grew to become, in her personal wry acknowledgment, nothing greater than a punch line.
“I, Tonya” is much from a deification of its topic, nevertheless it delivers a slam to the prim world of figure-skating for cold-shouldering Harding from the beginning. Together with her blue-collar upbringing and low-cost, all-wrong costumes, she by no means match the specified mould (as she’s advised by a decide at one level). Behind the scenes, she went straight from being overwhelmed by her mom to being overwhelmed by her husband.
Gillespie walks a high-quality line in mining each the buffoonish nature of the crime and the deep disappointment of Harding’s rise and fall, and largely pulls it off. Is it disrespectful of him to level out comedian components (just like the baton-wielding Kerrigan assailant who, confronted with a locked door as he’s attempting to flee, breaks the glass along with his head as a substitute of the baton) of a narrative that additionally contains sickening spousal abuse? I’d argue it might be much less true to her scrappy spirit to cut back her to one-note victimhood. Largely, I discovered myself hoping Harding — banned for all times from the game — will get as a lot of a thrill watching the dynamic skating sequences as audiences seemingly will.