I would be biased to say I'm not a huge fan of Margot Robbie and her sensational work. She's graced us as Naomi in the academy nominated 'The Wolf of Wall Street' at the age of only 23 (what were you doing when you were 23?!) Most people will probably recognize her for portraying our first ever live action Harley Quinn in Davie Ayer's 2016 adaption of Suicide Squad. But she's more than just a ”bubble headed blonde” (my comic friends will get that joke) I was however surprised when I learned that the new project of LuckyChap Entertainment was going to be a production of some washed up has-been.
I take that back now.
Margot Robbie has proven again and again that she will, and can, take on roles that you'd doubt her ability to pull off. She has incredible acting range, and I'm glad that people are finally starting to notice this.
I, Tonya is not necessarily a biography, and it's not a documentary. It's a ficticious, mockumentary? Loosely based on interviews? It's quite bizarre to try and categorize this movie when it's based on real events? To quote the movie itself: ”Based on irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly.” So, you decide.
Before we jump into the actual movie, let's head down memory lane and take a trip back to 1991. Tonya Harding was the first American woman ever, to land a triple axel in competition. While Harding was just starting to make a name for herself, Nancy Kerrigan was also out there gaining attention; she even won bronze at the 1992 Olympics. Fast forward to January 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was savagely (and I'm using that word loosely) attacked while training for the U.S Figure Skating Championships (Olympic trials). Although her leg was not broken nor fractured, she did sustain a cut and a bruise, along with some swelling. Now, I don't know if Tonya and Nancy were ever friends, but they were competitiors and they both wanted on that team. Bad.
Onwards to the actual movie.
We are introduced to a very young Tonya and her chain-smoking mother LaVona (Allison Janney) who is singlehandedly, the best at detach parenting. Her father, Alan is a loving and doting father. Early on we learn that homelife in Portland, Oregon, for Tonya is no bed of roses. She begins skating at the age of 3, her other hobbies includes hunting and working on cars. Her father later leaves his wife and daughter, and Tonya is forced to fend for herself. According to Tonya she is abused both mentally and physically by LaVona (Janney).
There are moments throughout the movie where the actors will look straight into the camera and speak to the audience to get their point across, this is called an aside (and it makes me miss 'The Office' an awfully lot). Tonya (Robbie) meets Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and you know how they say opposites attract? This isn't the case. They aren't compatible on any level. Everyone has a very different opinion, and their stories contradict each other leading up to the incident, and it's quite fascinating - yet a tad bit sad - to witness how fast something can plummet if you do not care for it with good intentions.
Both Margot and Allison puts on a spectacular performance in this corky, black comedy...drama? I still don't know what to call it. All I know is that I've seen it four times and I'm blown away by how they were able to take this tragedy and tale of envy, and bring some light and heart to it, with witty and sharp - yet sincere - dialogue. Tonya may have been "white trash" and the United States Figure Skating Association may not have wanted her to represent an entire nation, but truth be told, she wasn't a bad ice skater. Bad judgement and bad upbringing, sure, but in the end she was actually an incredible ice skater.
Margot trained for roughly 4 months, 5 days a week, a couple of hours a day before production began. And she does a lot of her own skating in some of the scenes, but landing the jumps? That's debatable. Now you may wonder what happened to the real Harding? She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. Oh, and she had to resign from the USFSA. She was later stripped of her title and banned for life.
Now 'tis the season, award season that is. The Oscar buzz began way before the movie had even screened at TIFF earlier this year. And even if I, Tonya isn't one of the top picks for the Academy for Best Motion Picture, Robbie and Janney are both coming for those Oscars. As of right now, I, Tonya has a whopping 22 nominations and that includes both SAG and Golden Globes.
In conclusion, is this a movie people are going to see? Hopefully. Maybe ice skating isn't your thing, but perhaps a foul mouthed Margot Robbie and crew is? Then yes, definitely, go see I, Tonya, support the arts, I guarantee you'll get a good laugh or two out of it. It is hilarious. I, Tonya is written by Steven Rogers and produced by Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerly, Steven Rogers and Bryan Unkeless.