I, Tonya is a semi-biographical film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers. The film stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser, with Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver, and Bobby Cannavale in minor roles. The story follows the life of professional figure skater Tonya Harding, her connection to the 1994 attack on fellow figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, and the media coverage following the incident. I, Tonya has a different style than other biopics in that it features modern-day interviews with the characters in a mockumentary type format, as well as characters breaking the fourth wall. This makes the storytelling more interesting because we get to see how different situations are remembered by each of the characters. The film also manages to be very informative and provides new insight into the mindsets of everyone involved in the attack. Margot Robbie is great as Tonya Harding. The director does a great job at making her a sympathetic character. The audience gets to see what kind of upbringing she had and how horrible her mother was to her. We also get to see how horrible her marriage to Jeff was, from her point of view. Watching Tonya struggle to overcome adversity is the best part of the film, even if the viewer knows how her story ends. Her relationships with her mother and husband are what drive the story forward and Robbie meshes well with both Janney and Stan throughout. Sebastian Stan performs well as Harding’s then-husband Jeff Gillooly. Stan portrays Gillooly as somewhat meek and easily frustrated. It’s hard to root for Jeff when you see the way he treats Tonya. He continues to make poor decisions that ultimately lead him to the situation with the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. Luckily, both Stan and Robbie have the youthful looks to portray Tonya and Jeff through many different stages of their lives. Allison Janney is masterful as Harding’s mother, LaVona Fay Golden. She is probably the meanest and least likable character in the entire film. While at times the audience can believe that LaVona truly loves her daughter on some level, it’s hard to get past her vile and selfish behavior throughout most of the film. One scene, in particular, stands out as inherently selfish. Paul Walter Hauser is the standout as Harding’s bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, and the funniest character in the film. He is portrayed as one of the most idiotic people in the world. The things that he says make no sense and what’s funny is that he has fooled himself into believing it’s all true. His role in the entire incident is bigger and more unbelievable than anyone can imagine. Surprisingly, some of the editing is poor as the viewer can at times tell a difference between when Robbie is skating and when it’s a stunt double. I give I, Tonya a Decent 8/10. Not too shabby for Margot Robbie’s first time as a producer. Hopefully, she continues to make smart choices like this.
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