December 5, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: I, Tonya

Margot Robbie is the infamous Tonya Harding in this dark comedy of a biopic.

Once again, Watson beat me to this review.

Still, a movie about Tonya Harding, a former Olympic skater best known for her possible involvement with a physical attack on a competitor, and starring Margot Robbie?  How could that turn out?

The opening narration for the movie sets the whole tone successfully:  the story being told is based off interviews from Tonya (Robbie) and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) which are irony free and openly contradictory.  Though Tonya’s own version of events seems to grant her some precedence, the movie doesn’t make her out to be a completely innocent party to everything that happens.  What we instead get is a very nuanced approach to Tonya.  Her mother LaVona (a terrific Allison Janey) was never even remotely supportive at any point in her daughter’s life, and when Tonya left her physically abusive mother, it was to move in (and eventually marry) her physically abusive boyfriend Jeff.  That said, this is a movie filled with self-serving, unreliable narrators, where the catch phrase might as well be, “I never said that!”

And though the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, the incident even the movie acknowledges is why we’re all there, is portrayed and Tonya’s hardly completely innocent of what happened, much of what does come out is played somewhat for laughs considering how dumb all the people involved were (Jeff is no genius, but even he comes across as smarter than his stupid cousin who set the whole thing up).  Furthermore, Tonya was an incredibly athletic and talented figure skater, a woman who pulled off a triple axel, a feat most women’s figure skaters can’t pull off even today.  Her problems before the attack on Kerrigan were often due to her relative poverty, lack of social skills, and other class issues, ignoring her raw talent and focusing instead on her presentation, factors that she had little control over as it is.

This movie was just a blast, thought provoking in making a one-time TV tabloid villain into something of a real person with strong performances both from Janey and especially Robbie.  Ten out of ten anatomically impossible vulgar suggestions.


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