I, TONYA packs its punches

I, TONYA - 2017
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie / Allison Janney / Sebastian Stan
Score: Peter Nashel.
Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis.
Content Advisory: R for strong, frequent language, violence, nudity, and sexual content.
Source: Rented.

Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

I had never heard of Tonya Harding before I heard of this movie. But Margot Robbie earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the infamous skater, and Allison Janney even won an Oscar for her role as Tonya's mother. After that happened, I was sold.

The production is beautiful. The scenes are gorgeous, the colours are rich and saturated, the sets soft and atmospheric, and the cinematography subtly powerful. The dialogue is also brilliant, and the soundtrack boasts catchy, timely song after song. 

The plot keeps you hooked from start to finish. I was gripped. It's a harrowing, ultimately tragic story, but it's also entertaining and with a dark, dry humour to it. I learnt a lot about Tonya's journey, and overall, was equally enraged and heartbroken to see how her abusive husband and mother manipulated her and her career. It's a gritty, powerful tale with a lot of heart.

The cast is sublime, and all I want to do is sing their praises. Allison Janney is excellent, just excellent, and Sebastian Stan (although slightly weak compared to the performances of the two leading ladies) holds his own.

But for me, it's Margot Robbie who steals the show. She captures Tonya's ambition and rage with intimidating ferocity, at the same time bringing out the character's intense, almost childlike vulnerability and raw femininity. One moment she's screaming, swearing at judges; the next she's just a young, lonely woman craving affirmation from her abusive mother. It's refreshing to see such a complicated anti-heroine on screen and thanks to good writing and Robbie's performance, I found myself both loving and hating Tonya in different moments of the film. She's just so dastardly human.

I, Tonya is a dark, hard hitting movie that shines scalding and objective light on the controversy surrounding Tonya Harding, as well as delving deep into her complicated personal relationships. With an excellent production and terrific actors, it's well worth a watch.

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