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(2017)

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8/10
The acting and direction were pretty amazing....
MartinHafer19 October 2017
Tonight I went to the opening night film at the Philadelphia Film Festival and it turned out to be "I, Tonya". I wasn't particularly thrilled about this, as I really didn't care much about seeing a biopic about Tonya Harding. In hindsight, I am glad I saw it as the film was exceptionally well directed and the acting was occasionally brilliant. In particular, Australian actress Margot Robbie was simply amazing as Harding—turning in the sort of performance that could mean an Oscar nomination. Likewise, Allison Janney was amazing as well…playing Tonya's incredibly despicable mother. You really have to respect the great job both of them did in the film…as well as Robbie's learning to skate well in order to make this movie.

The film is about the life of Tonya Harding….yes, THAT Tonya Harding…the one who gained infamy for her part in the attack on rival ice skater Nancy Kerrigan back in 1994. My daughter was only a small child at the time of the attack and I told her nothing about Harding because I wanted to see her perspective on the story. Both of us left very impressed. However, I must put in a warning about the film. It is very violent….filled with intense and very realistic domestic violence…among the most realistic I have ever seen. With my background as a psychotherapist, this churned up a lot of memories for me and the film often had me in tears. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, then I strongly urge you to think twice before you see the picture…or at least see it with someone you love. Seeing Tonya being slugged, slapped and even shot was tough to watch. Interestingly, often the audience responded by laughing…an inappropriate but thoroughly understandable coping mechanism for such ugliness.

Does the film excuse Harding's behaviors or paint her out to be a victim? Not really…and if it had, the film would have been a waste of time. What it does do is help you at least understand who she was and why she did what she did…as she was more than just an intense competitor who didn't come forward when she learned her husband and his friend had physically assaulted Tonya's competitor, Nancy Kerrigan. Overall, a fascinating look back to one of the most celebrated news stories of the 1990s….one that folks who are old fogies, like me, well remember!
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Dialog and acting had the entire theater hushed.
mikelanke5 January 2018
I must have been at a different movie than those who did not like it. The story is well written, the acting was excellent and the twist in the way the story is delivered makes for a memorable event. At certain points when Tonya speaks to the audience she speaks right to you. A great story to get lost in and I was not really interested in seeing this when I went into the theater.
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10/10
More than about tabloid trash, this movie should be watched
jehosaphet-5880328 December 2017
Anyone who was old enough to be sucked in by the media circus that this scandal turned into should make it a point to take a look at this film, in my opinion.

The media seemed much more about the sensationalism of it all than it was about maintaining the kind of objective balance that'd presume Tonya's innocence until evidence proved otherwise. But being honest, even if evidence came along that absolved Harding of any wrongdoing in the Kerrigan attack, how happy would the media have been to report it? Or would we have been to hear it? Because we've got to admit that, although it might not seem very nice, there was quite a bit of fun to be had during the couple months we spent focusing on this Hillbilly girl and her bumbling husband, right? Well with that in mind, what would the thought of her innocence have brought, other than damage to the narrative we were having such fun with? Regardless of where you stand in regards to her innocence, its only fair to acknowledge that her role had been laid out for her pretty much from the get-go. Kerrigan was its hero the moment she became the victim, could we have honestly entertained the notion that maybe Harding wasn't as much the villain as seemed to befit the story? How fun would that have been? Really?

In the last couple months, the articles about this upcoming movie had comment sections riddled with people mostly bemoaning the current state of Hollywood. Not the scandals, but that it'd even stoop so low as to peddle this kind of white trash story. "White trash" came up repeatedly of course, and while comment sections generally aren't the place to find the best sampling of voices, I personally wasn't able to find a single comment that was anything other than damningly derivative of Hollywood and/or Tonya...certainly not one suggesting the possibility that maybe there was more to this story than what we already knew. But that was always a possibility, wasn't it? The telling of a side that we hadn't heard?

After seeing the flick last night, I passed along my recommendation of it to a friend, commenting that Tonya Harding's guilt might have to be re-thought. In response, I got a chuckling, "Oh I have a hard time believing that!" Which, sure that has to be the prevailing opinion, I'd imagine. But why? Do we really and truly think that we have the kind of information on the subject that'd allow for the most objective, fact-based decision on it? Have many of us ever stopped long enough to have wondered whether or not we did? The line of questioning isn't likely to be met with much more than scoffs by those who've yet to view the movie, but they're questions that end up being well begged and something that the same people may find themselves unwittingly exploring afterward. I sure have been.

In the meantime, this isn't just a great movie, but a great sports movie, detailing an ice skating prodigy who love for skating drove her life, and whose life ultimately served as a testament to just how influential a class system can be that many of us are barely cognizant of even existing. Based off interviews and testimony from the key players in the Kerrigan scandal, watching it brings a much needed sense of balance to the story and will likely leave you amazed at how easily the truth can be blurred when viewed through the lens of sensationalized media coverage.

10/10, great movie that grabs you from its opening scene and will have you entranced throughout.
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10/10
A triple axel of a skating movie
Art Snob18 September 2017
If I could have voted online for the best movie that I saw at TIFF 2017 (the voting was limited to iPhone and Android users), it would have been for this film, which wound up second in the People's Choice award competition. Director Craig Gillespie has tackled a difficult subject brilliantly without removing the considerable number of warts from the main characters. This film should garner a considerable number of Oscar nominations, including best picture and director.

Margot Robbie should be a lock for a Best Actress nod, completely burying her Australian background to deliver American white trash with complete credibility. (She won't win of course, because ... Tonya.) Her skating sequences are edited brilliantly - you really believe that it's her.

THE surest Oscar bet has to be Allison Janney as Tonya's acerbic, domineering, Swisher-chain-smoking mother LaVona Golden. She gives what I call a "schizophrenia" performance - there's no way that anyone seeing JUNO and this film back-to-back would ever notice that the mothers in both films are played by the same actress. Robbie got the loudest applause when the actors were introduced before the film, but when they came out afterwards, Janney's applause was equivalent to hers.

The story sticks to facts and places most of the blame for the Kerrigan incident on Sean Eckhardt, played with spot-on obnoxiousness by Paul Walter Hauser. The rest goes to hubby-at-times Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan. He handles the husband-to-a-celebrity role with a charm not seen since Eric Roberts in STAR 80.

The subject matter may cost the film at awards time, but it's still an excellent movie that you should definitely check out if you have any interest at all in the story.
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8/10
I, Tonya (2017)
rockman1827 December 2017
I think this film may have had the best trailer of 2017. I saw it and knew instantly how badly I wanted to see it. I've never been a fan of Margot Robbie and her previous acting efforts but this looked like her awakening and where she would be proving me wrong. I believe it, she's quite sensational in this film. Her dedication to her role shows but really everyone involved has done very well. Craig Gillespie has his first real winner with I, Tonya.

I, Tonya is a biographical picture about famed and disgraced figure skater, Tonya Harding. Tonya was pushed onto the rink by her abusive mother at a very young age and despite the abuse becomes a very talented ice skater. The cycle of abuse continues with her abusive husband but she tries to bear through and succeed. Everyone seems to be against her but her talent is hard to deny. The film also goes into the famed attack on fellow ice skater Nancy Kerrigan and the aftermath of the incident.

The film is sort of told from a mockumentary perspective as if key characters are being interviewed. The film also utilizes breaking the fourth wall where characters in a scene would talk to the audience. I thought this was interesting and separates itself from being a standard biopic and gives this film a real comedic depth. The soundtrack is catchy and literally every performance in this film makes for a very engaging time. I didn't even recognize the chameleon Bobby Cannavale until the credits rolled.

Some wonder why the film was made but it kind of helps you identify with Tonya. She suffered physical and psychological abuse from both her foul mouthed mother and her rage filled husband. Her hands may not be completely clean in what happens to Nancy Kerrigan, but she is also just a victim of circumstances. Vastly talented, but just short of reaching her pinnacle due to outside factors and her image and attitude. The film isn't perfect but its vastly entertaining and could be giving Margot Robbie and Allison Janney Oscar nominations. I'm going to let this sink in and I'm sure its going to be something I go back to.

7.5/10
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7/10
Tabloid Times
G G Gwalles7 December 2017
I was going to make a list of people who made extraordinary things during the same period that Tonya Harding monopolized the headlines but then I thought it was a pointless exercise. Charles Manson will always be more famous, much more than Sharon Tate. That's the world we live in or maybe it always was. The sadness verging on horror of of the Tonya Harding story will win, fascination wise, than any kind of kindness from anyone anywhere. Now that out of my system let me say that I Tonya is an entertaining harrowing tale directed by Craig Gillespie and his extraordinary cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis with, clearly, Martin Scorsese in their minds and hearts. Margot Robbie is terrific and Sebastian Stan as the husband from hell, superb but it's Allison Janney that creates a character that is impossible to take and irresistible at the same time. She is spectacular. So, that's more than enough to recommend I Tonya but if the Tabloid Times is something you subscribe I will highly recommend Gus Van Sant's To Die For and Michael Ritchie's made for television The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.
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8/10
Relevant movie
Ini Kim2 January 2018
Why relevant? Until I saw this movie, in my point of view Tonya Harding was a cheat and a lowlife and this was entirely based on the media coverage of the events in 1994. Having seen the movie I feel ashamed about how easily I judged her and I realised I have to be way more careful in forming my opinion about people.
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8/10
Some Darwin award winners
bob-the-movie-man8 March 2018
Man, I personally found this one to be an exceedingly uncomfortable watch.

"I, Tonya" is cleverly filmed as a pseudo-documentary, featuring re-enactments of the real-life interviews of most of the participants in this true-life drama. I recently bitterly criticised some film critics for spoiling the story of Donald Crowhurst, the subject of the recent "The Mercy". But I was about to do exactly the same here, *assuming* that you all know the lurid tale of the rivalry between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan that led up to an 'event' in 1994 that shocked the world. And of course, many of you younger folk don't know: case in point my 26 year old son who I went to see this with, and who went into the story blissfully blind of the drama about to unfold. So I will try to keep this review spoiler-free.

Playing Tonya from a (not very credible!) 15 years old to her mid-20's is Margot Robbie ("The Wolf of Wall Street", "Suicide Squad") in what is a BAFTA and Oscar nominated performance. And for good reason: the performance is raw, visceral and disturbing in reflecting a victim who still thinks everything at heart is her own fault.

Also BAFTA and Oscar nominated is Allison Janney ("The Girl on the Train") as Tonya's obnoxious chain-smoking mother LaVona. Janney is truly terrifying as the mother who abuses her daughter both physically and mentally in a driven attempt to make her the best ice-skater in the world.

Victims seem to attract abusers, and Tonya is surrounded by people who are just plain bad for her: notably her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan, "The Martian", "Captain America: Winter Soldier") and his slimy and pitifully self-deluded friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser). The end credits video footage of the real-life players show just how well these parts were cast.

Why so uncomfortable to watch? There is a significant degree of domestic abuse featured in the film, both in terms of LaVona on her child and Jeff on his wife. This is something I abhor in general, having been brought up to believe it is never EVER acceptable to lay a hand on a woman. To have these cowardly individuals sensationalised in the movie I found to be really upsetting. I strongly feel, for this reason alone, that the film should have had an 18 certificate. Violence in film should be related to the context as well as the severity. (Note that this is in stark contrast to my comments of recent BBFC decisions to make "Phantom Thread" and "Lady Bird" 15-certificates when I believe they should have been 12A).

The film is executed extremely well, with 4:3 framing for the staged interviews, and ice skating scenes that seamlessly cut between the professional clearly doing the stunts and Robbie (who must also be a half decent skater too). The soundtrack is nicely littered - "Guardians of the Galaxy" style - with classic hits of the early 90's.

To think that this story actually unfolded in this way is nothing short of astounding... but it did! There is an astonishing video clip here (#spoilers) of the run up to, and the immediate aftermath of, the Kerrigan incident. I came out of the film with a deep feeling of sadness for Harding (at least, as portrayed) and utter disgust that the villains of this piece could be a) so cruel and out of control and b) so utterly stupid. These are individuals who really should have been sterilised to stop them polluting the gene pool any further.

Written by Steven Rogers ("Stepmom") and directed by Australian Craig Gillespie, there is no doubting that this is a powerful film: played to an absolutely silent and gripped Saturday night cinema audience. And it has truly dynamite performances from Allison Janney and Margot Robbie. But be warned that you'll need a strong stomach to go and see it without being affected by it afterwards. It's a mental keeper.
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6/10
Allison Janney Steals The Show In This Wild Biopic!
namashi_111 December 2017
Before I give my thoughts on 'I, Tonya', let me just say two words: Allison Janney. The Multiple Time Emmy-Winning Actress delivers one of the STRONGEST Performances of the year, in her portrayal of LaVona Fay Golden, Tonya Harding's Mother from hell. Janney is pure Oscar-GOLD.

And now coming to the film...

'I, Tonya' like any other sports Biopic, shows us a woman from being a bullied nobody to becoming a somebody in the world of sports. Over-here, we explore Tonya Harding's hardened journey, that is at times powerful & at times exhausting.

'I, Tonya' Synopsis: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, in great form) 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 (Sebastian Stan, very good) intervenes.

'I, Tonya' is about Tonya's violent journey, that started from an impossible, no-holds-barred mother to a violent, brutal husband, who eventually ruined her career. But, Tonya is not a victim of her circumstances. Here is a woman, who despite being thrown into a world of ice-skating & rigorous competition, left a strong mark. She may have not done the right things to get to the position she got, but she was a talented personality who had the power to mesmerize & inspire.

Steven Rogers' Screenplay begins superbly & the personal interviews of its characters throughout the film, give it that extra edge. The first-hour is solid & gets into Tonya's world & the people involved with a wicked sense of humor. The second-hour is a little disappointing & overlong, and the sub-plot involving the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Harding's rival and Olympic teammate, offers less impact. The Writing isn't always compelling & takes away some glory from the film, overall. The Dialogue, however, are crackling & foul to the core.

Craig Gillespie's Direction captures all the madness & ambition, with skill. The Director is in good form this time around. Nicolas Karakatsanis's Cinematography & Tatiana S. Riegel's Editing are strongly done. Art & Costume Design, as well as Make-Up, deserve a special mention.

Performance-Wise: Janney is outstanding & is sure to pick up many awards for her portrayal here. I wouldn't be surprised if she takes the Oscar home, next year! Margot Robbie, also is in very form, delivering a credible turn as Tonya. Sebastian Stan is entirely convincing as the violent husband. And Paul Walter Hauser is terrific as Shawn, one of Stan's friends, who leads Tonya & Stan, into much trouble.

On the whole, 'I, Tonya' is an imperfect biopic about an imperfect woman. Do watch it though, especially for Janney's sterling performance.
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10/10
Best movie in a few years
realgaryh12 January 2018
This is an amazing black comedy/drama that sheds a very factual account of the tragic life of Tonya Harding. Margo Robbie deserves an Oscar for her perfect portrayal of Miss Harding and the life of abuse she encountered. Several Academy Awards will be won from this movie possibly best actress. Don't hesitate to spend $12.00 to see this piece or art!
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10/10
Not a monster...
Jon Ochiai15 January 2018
"I, Tonya" is amazing. Margot Robbie gifts a career defining performance. Margot plays disgraced 1994 US Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. Her performance as Tonya is fearless, vulnerable, sad and poignantly flawed. Harding is notorious for knowing about the attack upon US figure skating Champion Nancy Kerrigan which led to her eventual ban from competitive skating which was her life.

Director Craig Gillespie neither vilifies nor justifies Tonya offering the experience of being her. That she wanted to be loved, to be gotten, and to be the best. At the time Tonya was the only women's figure skater in the world to land the impossible triple axel in competition. Robbie as Tonya in an interview in the movie acknowledged when she landed the triple axel in the trials she knew, "I was the best!" Tonya was driven, the figure skating phenom, but she was less than phenom in her life. I think that is the poignancy of Gillespie's direction and Steven Rogers's story.

"I, Tonya" is not really dark comedy. "I, Tonya" is just dark with laughs in its irony and the stupidity of those closest to Tonya. The movie is the dichotomy that defines the tragedy of domestic violence and abuse. In one scene Tonya's husband Jeff, played by convincing Sebastian Stan, slams the freezer door in Tonya's face, because she questions why he didn't buy Dove ice cream bars. That is so wrong. That makes you so angry.

Gillespie depicts that pattern of abuse throughout of beating on screen. And Tonya takes it, and stays until she can no longer. The abuse originates with Mom LaVona, played by focused Allison Janney, who thinks she is tough love as she pushes her daughter in her skating career. No, Mom is an abuser. Janney's LaVona could have been comic caricature; instead she brilliantly nuances the single Mom working waitress raising her kid the way she was raised. Robbie is touching humanity as Tonya, who has the self awareness that she is uneducated, but she is smarter than she thinks and way smarter than those surrounding her.

"I, Tonya" and Robbie in contrasts of edgy humor and human cruelty touchingly tells the story of how we are raised and the people we choose to spend life with either define or curse. Much about Tonya seems to be the in order to, to prove something. In the great scene before her competition her new Coach Doty, played by strong Bojana Novakovic, tells her "You show them." That I think becomes the conversation that dominates Tonya's life.

Needing her Mom's help after she leaves husband Jeff, Tonya sees her Mom. She asks her Mom that when she was a kid, "Did you love me?" Robbie's Tonya is in tears. That breaks your heart. Really Tonya just wanted to be loved, like we all do. That may be the point of Gillespie's "I, Tonya" with all its emotional extremes and uncomfortable laughs. Perhaps, most of the laughs come from the blatant stupidity of Jeff and his idiot friend Shawn, played by good Paul Walter Hauser.

Maybe "I, Tonya" works in its profound sadness as well. Toward the end Tonya says, "I am not a monster." No, she's not. She is just the little girl who wanted to be loved and never got it. She was driven and wanted to be the best. Tonya is just human. She is both lightness and darkness. Perhaps within "I, Tonya" are loud laughs and the subtle lesson of having compassion. "I, Tonya" is one of my favorite movies of the year.
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8/10
Really entertaining.
sydbuyer13 February 2018
This one keeps you well entertained for the whole 2 hours. Cleverly crafted with wonderful performances from all involved, definitely worth the watch.
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9/10
Margot Robbie and Allison Janney nailed their roles!
Harrison Tweed (Top Dawg)12 January 2018
I didn't expect much going into this film... I'm not into figure skating or docu style movies (as per trailer), but I have to say, this one blew me away!

Margot Robbie and Allison Janney just nailed their roles! I'm sure this is Margot Robbie's best performance... she got right into her character. Craig Gillespie's outstanding directing contributes to the greatness of this film.

There isn't anything bad to critique here. I highly recommend seeing this as I'm sure you'll be getting more out of it than you'd expect. A well deserved 8.5 rounded up to a 9/10 from me!
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5/10
Janney shines as "mother from hell" but Robbie as "trailer trash" skating champ is all wrong for the part
Turfseer17 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I, Tonya, is director Craig Gillespie's take on the mercurial rise and fall of Tonya Harding, the figure skating champion who threw away her career through her association with an abusive ex-husband. Gillespie tells Harding's story through a series of interviews with the principals, most made up to appear how they might look in the present time, speaking directly to the camera, and insisting that their version of events is the correct one.

The real star of the film is not the actress who plays Tonya (Margot Robbie) but Allison Janney, who steals the show as Tonya's mother from hell, LaVona Golden, a serial psychological abuser, who still manages to garner sympathy through her abrasively witty comments directed toward Tonya throughout her childhood and into adulthood (as well as directed toward us, the enraptured audience). One can't help sense that LaVona heaped abuse on her daughter both out of love and jealousy-love in the sense that she wanted Tonya to be more successful in life than she was (LaVona being a waitress at a greasy spoon) and jealous once Tonya had achieved the fame and recognition that eluded her mother who was nonetheless a highly intelligent woman.

If it wasn't for Janney, I, Tonya, might have been a complete flop, as Robbie, the Australian actress who plays Tonya, is all wrong for the part. This is especially true when Robbie plays Tonya as a teenager-she simply looks too old to be believable. What's worse is how Robbie is unable to convey Tonya's likable qualities-that odd mixture of naivety and "trailer trash" aggression that initially endeared the public to her. Instead, Robbie comes off as too harsh, compromising her attempts to convey Tonya's more vulnerable side. While Robbie is an accomplished skater (and this is probably the reason why she was cast), I think it was a big mistake for Gillespie to use her for that reason. Without a compelling protagonist, the necessary verisimilitude is lost.

Gillespie's approach, akin to the Japanese classic, Rashomon, works best when Tonya's and husband Jeff Gillooly's differing points of view are contrasted in high relief. Gillooly denied that he ever physically assaulted Tonya but that seems highly unlikely as Tonya's description of what happened has the ring of truth. At a certain point, Tonya had enough of the abuse and decided to walk away from Gillooly-she even had to get a restraining order as he continued to stalk her (once putting a gun to her head, threatening to shoot her). But why did Tonya feel that she needed to go back to Gillooly after separating?-even though she claimed it was only a temporary arrangement. Despite being on the verge of complete success in the skating world, the old demons reared their ugly head-her crushing insecurities from her mother's put-downs and lack of a father figure-this led to her inevitable fall from grace.

The bizarre plot to injure Tonya's rival, Nancy Kerrigan concocted by Gillooly's moronic pal, Sean Eckhardt, is so ludicrous that it's hard to believe that he actually thought he could pull something like this off undetected. I happen to believe both Gillooly and Harding's assertions that they were unaware that the plot was going to turn into a physical attack on Kerrigan. Gillooly insisted the initial plan was to send Kerrigan some threatening letters which might perhaps cause her to withdraw from the tournament or throw her off her game. It makes sense that Gillooly would confront Eckhardt over his lame-brain decision to have one of his confederates actually break Kerrigan's knee cap with a baton, suggesting that Gillooly had no idea what Eckhardt was ultimately up to.

Much of what happens after the attack on Kerrigan, is anti-climactic. Gillespie basically presents a basic recap as to what happened as the story reaches its not so fitful conclusion. Of interest of course are the courtroom machinations, particularly Tonya's decision to take a plea bargain and accept a lifetime ban from figure skating. Benjamin Lee, writing in the Guardian, sums it up perfectly when he writes: "The zippy fun of the first half dissipates once we reach the overly familiar scenes of the second, the focus on the harebrained criminal scheme feeling particularly sub-Coenesque. It's hardly dull but it's not quite as biting and sharply realized as it could be given the wealth of stranger-than-fiction drama surrounding Harding."

With a more convincing protagonist in the lead role, I, Tonya, might have been a tad bit more enjoyable; nonetheless, there's still Janney's performance to marvel at. And for all those who long for nostalgia, Tonya's story will bring you back to the heady days of the early 1990s, a time that feels way distant from our own.
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9/10
Some of the best performances of the year!
Davis P7 March 2018
I, Tonya (2017) is a film about the true story of Tonya Harding, the former Olympic ice skater. I didn't know much about this, I mean I was born in 1999, so it was interesting to see this and learn all about it. The awards show season is really what lead me to watching this film. I can for sure say that the awards are well deserved. Probably the best thing this film has going for it is the acting. Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, and Sebastian Stan all turn in great performances. Robbie is such a talented actress and she really does a great job at embodying Tonya Harding. But really the actor that shines the brightest is definitely Janney, she plays the b**ch mother and she plays it very well. I mean it's truly one of the best performances I've ever seen. The script tells us so much about these unfortunate characters. Every aspect of the film is put together is a way that just works. Yes, it's dark, and that is because of the characters and what all they go through, but there is some comedy sprinkled in there, dark comedy that is. But it's not awkward or weird, it works. 9/10 for I, Tonya.
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7/10
Margot Robbie Leads an Excellent Cast to a Gold Medal
mt-9525628 February 2018
TL;DR

  • Unique style makes it personal and stand out
  • Great soundtrack
  • Goodfellas vibe to the whole thing
  • Tracks a lot of Tonya's life but the focus narrows in on "the incident", improving structure
  • Phenomenal performances, particularly Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in particular


-------------------------------------------------

You have to admit, I, Tonya came out at a pretty perfect time; with the Oscars just around the corner and the Winter Olympics in full swing, Margot Robbie's latest ticks both boxes with a film about ice skating worthy of its three Academy Award nominations. Bringing a sporting legend to life, I, Tonya is a well-made, strangely captivating film.

The style chosen by director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers is a unique, interesting one and works very well. Starting from her childhood and tracking her life up until the present (more or less), it's absolutely a biopic, but it's given a dash of personality and realism by occasionally having the style of a documentary, with the actors recreating the real-life interviews and the editing cutting the talking-heads to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the film - the nomination for editing is well-deserved. Having the actors break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, both in the talking heads and fitting into the action, makes the story seem a lot more personal and works well, also fitting with Tonya's rebellious persona. In fact the constant personal narration (along with the fantastic soundtrack) gives off a strong Goodfellas vibe that works well.

Most of the film is about the characters though, the latter half specifically being about how they react and handle the aftermath of "the incident". The cast are all wonderful, without a weak link. Even the comic relief in Paul Walter Hauser doesn't detract from the film's tone and is used in moderation to lighten things up. It's especially refreshing to see Sebastian Stan flex his acting talents more than we often see him in the Marvel films, with his Bucky character relegated to just brooding and not giving off much of a character. Here however he's given a chance to deliver a well-rounded, complex performance, playing a character we really shouldn't like, but Stan makes the pathetic and aggressive Jeff almost sympathetic. This complex performance extends especially to the Oscar nominated performances by Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. Robbie makes a wonderful lead, fully embracing the "bad-girl" persona of Tonya Harding, while still making her empathetic and likeable. With such a charismatic, intricate performance, it's not surprising she's been nominated. Janney in particular is one of the most interesting characters though, easily stealing every scene she's in and really making the part her own. It would be so easy for her character to be seen as an abusive villain, but instead she makes her more complex than that. Like with all the characters, Janney's excellent performance portrays her character as neither good nor bad, neither likeable nor unlikable. She's a flawed person and is perhaps the best thing in the film.

I, Tonya is nothing if not refreshing; a uniquely styled biopic which breaks the fourth wall, is effortlessly entertaining and captivates audiences worldwide with flawless performances of very flawed characters. This one easily steals a gold medal.
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8/10
Margot Robbie and Allison Janney
ryanlaurencecole11 February 2018
After seeing the preview I knew I would love this. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney were both impressive. I have to say, I was really surprised by Robbie! I checked out a few interviews with the real Tonya and her mother. Seems like Robbie and Janney really nailed them.
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10/10
The Best Film of the Year
M_Exchange18 December 2017
First, I'm stating that it's the best film of the year, and I just barely care about women's figure skating. So you know that it's phenomenal. For me, it edges out "Dunkirk," which was my favorite 2017 film until the night I saw it.

Director Craig Gillespie is obviously a Scorsese protégé, and unlike Martin McDonagh's cheap ripoff of the Cohen brothers, he manages to pay homage to the man without imitating him. Like Scorsese (and Bob Fosse) he meshes documentary with realistic drama seamlessly well.

Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan deliver good performances. Allison Janney and especially Paul Walter Hauser deliver OUTSTANDING performances. In fact, I didn't feel like Hauser was even acting as much as he was just BEING. These performances are also a credit to Gillespie.

Almost every scene is well-paced, has little "fat," conveys meaning and adds to the narrative, which indicates great video editing. The editing was so good that I didn't even check the time, which is rare for me. Outstanding pacing.

When I entered the theater, I didn't think that I was going to get even slightly emotional about Tonya Harding's story. But she is truly a sympathetic character without feeling sorry for herself, which is rare nowadays. Nowadays, everyone seems to be competing for who has it worst and who is the most pathetic victim. In Tonya's world, it's just her life, and it's presented as factual rather than maudlin and soap operatic. As Tonya basically says at the end of the film, "s--t happens. Deal with it."
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9/10
A Well-Acted Drama
KJ Proulx17 January 2018
As I've said throughout countless reviews in the past, true stories are hardly ever completely honest. The quality of a film that's based on a true story has nothing to do with the fact that the true story was incredible or not because there's no way of knowing if everything's true unless you're the character it's based on. That being said, I, Tonya is one of the latest feature films (based on a true story) to receive a theatrical release. Gaining buzz for awards season, this is a very relevant story for today's climate. Yes, this film was made before all of these allegation stories made their way into the public eye, but I, Tonya deals with this particular notion in a very grand fashion. While I don't particularly like any of the characters throughout this entire movie, here's why I believe this to be a movie that people will love to hate.

Following Tonya Harding, an unlikely figure skater, due to her foul mouth and horrific upbringing, I, Tonya is about her rise to power and continual falls from grace. Falling in love with a man who (deep down) is just as violent a cruel as she is, their relationship finds a way of working out, most of the time. This film asks you to applaud for a despicable woman and try to forget about how she treats the people around her. Yes, she's talented, but it's hard to root for a woman that acts like this, especially when the entire film revolves around her. I'm sure aspects of this story have been exaggerated or made up entirely, but there are clever editing and writing techniques to make certain dramatic sequences quite funny at times.

Margot Robbie, Sebastien Stan, and Allison Janney are all terrific and believable as these characters, with the most notable one being Stan's portrayal of Tonya's husband Jeff. In my opinion, he was the standout of this film, because even though I've seen and enjoyed his performances in the past, most of them fell in comparison to everyone else in each film he appeared in. I'm simply stating that he's the standout to me, due to the fact that I've never seen him deliver a better performance than this and I don't think I ever will. The performances sell this film, but the true star of this movie is the editor (excluding the very off-putting visual effects of the skater's faces).

From cutting seamlessly between scenes with the brilliant use of sound effects, to quick cuts to show the progression of time, to the long takes exploring a character breakdown, there are many technical aspects about this film to gawk at. I found myself enthralled by the way this film was put together in terms of its structure. It's very rare that I leave a movie and find the most interesting aspect to be the editing choices, especially when everything else about the movie is just as great. Quite honestly, aside from a few plot points being brushed over, this was a terrific film from start to finish.

In the end, I, Tonya impressed me on many levels. From its use of fourth wall breaking to each and every performance seeming extremely committed to the use of unique editing, to the direction that seemed calm and focussed throughout the dramatic moments, this is a ride that I believe is worth taking. Although it doesn't quite offer the truth and literally states that certain things may or may not have happened, it's told in a perfect way for a feature film. This movie deserves its award buzz and I believe it's a great movie that people should check out.
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9/10
I, Tonya is a Masterpiece!
alexspencer-6081618 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I, Tonya is about American figure skater Tonya Harding and what actually happened to her. I wasn't born yet to know how much people hated Tonya, but this movie captured more than just the incident itself. The film had showed Tonya's life from when she was fifteen to somewhere in her forty's and explained who Tonya was when she wasn't on the ice. Tonya had to deal with a abusive mother, who believed that she raised Tonya the right way and formed the figure skater that Tonya is. After that she moved onto a boyfriend named Jeff who she loves at first but then again turns out to be her next abuser. The reason why Tonya had stood out from the rest of her opponents wasn't because she could do a triple axel, but because Tonya came from a lower class family. She wasn't able to afford a fur coat, or a proper costume she had to make one herself and due to this and this and Tonya's presentation of herself the judges gave her a lower score. Tonya later went to go speak with one of the judges and he explains that the competition is not all about the better skater, and the winner of the competition would become the face of the country and the girl who tells the judges to, "suck her d**k!" Isn't the ideal choice. Instead the judges wanted someone with the perfect family and life to become the face of the country. I loved the mocumentary style of the movie and how you get to see the varying viewpoints between Tonya and Jeff especially once you get to "the incident." It makes perfect sense for why anyone would believe that Tonya wacked her competitor in the knee with a pipe. Tonya is jealous of Nancy. She is jealous that she gets better scores, and she is jealous that she has a family that cares about her. This would lead you to believe that but that isn't true. Tanya gets a lot of hate for this incident but then she goes on to win first place at the Olympics after having major skate complications. The scene where she is looking in the mirror trying to smile really conveys a strong message about what is going on in Tonya's life. At this moment the whole country felt for Nancy and this was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Tanya explains Nancy's reaction when she was getting her second place medal as like she stepped in poop. Tanya then explains that Nancy has everything else but Tanya has nothing but the first place medal. The next part of the movie is Tanya's court case. This part was really emotional and I got choked up watching it. Tanya pleads her case to the judge but he bans her from ever competing in any skating competition ever again or even to coach. Tanya even says that she will take jail time over not being able to compete again. This movie cannot be summed up in any plot synopsis that you are going to read. Margot Robbie's performance in this movie is spectacular. She did most of her own skating except for the triple axel of course. The movie had a Martin Scorsese feel to it through when the broke the fourth wall. This movie was like the Goodfellas of figure skating. The parts where Tonya and Jeff were teenagers was a bit awkward. The main message that I received from this movie is that you don't know who you could trust. In the scene where Tonya's mom walks into her house and you think that they are now going to work together, we find out that she has a tape recorder on her so you still can't trust her, she couldn't trust Jeff, and she couldn't even trust her own body guard to protect her in the figurative way. This movie does something that most movies. I truly believe that Tonya is innocent and this movie stands out from most for the reason that it shows the truth behind someone that people used to hate. If you went back to the time of this case and said, "I'm going to make a movie about Tonya Harding because it think she is a hero," people would have a entirely different idea about the film. In conclusion, I think that I Tonya is a great movie and I recommend you see it soon.
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6/10
This is a movie about a bidimensional, white trash ice skater - not Tonya Harding.
Scarlet Nouveau26 December 2017
I finally have watched this movie and I can say I am deeply disappointed. I, as a big fan of figure ice skating was really thrilled about this movie and expected much more. If you don't know much about Tonya Harding's story, I suggest you read about her and watch some of her old and new interviews and you'll understand why I didn't like the movie.

One of the reasons is its screen script. There is no "official story" about what happened to Tonya Harding or Nancy Kerrigan. The script was written based on interviews with Tonya and her ex-husband, carried on by the screen writer himself. So, much of what is told in the movie is purely fictional, especially the parts about her mother, since she never agreed to talk to the screen writer or the production staff. Tonya herself said some parts of the movie were inaccurate, and Margot Robbie said that when she first read the script she thought it was about a fictional figure skater, not Tonya Harding.

Besides, many things in this movie remain unexplained. The movie is basically about the verbal, physical and moral abuse Tonya endured throughout her life, but shows too little how Tonya built her athletic and ice skating career. And regarding the Nancy Kerrigan controversy, there isn't much talked about, either. Nancy is just a shadow in this movie, there's nothing about her point of view or how the incident actually affected her or her career. In the end you feel that you don't really know what the life of Tonya Harding the ice skater was really like.

Regarding the direction, I found really tasteless Gillespie's attempt to give a comical tone in the NUMEROUS domestic violence scenes of the movie. The characters break the 4th wall to give the violent scenes a more 'casual' look (because according to Gillespie, Tonya talks about her violent past in a very casual manner), but cinematographically this 'casual tone' didn't work - it only makes it look like the movie romanticizes abuse and underestimates its impact on a woman's life. Also, the whole sarcastic/comical tone of the movie made it feel superficial, boring and childish. To me, a more serious approach to Tonya's life would be more appropriate.

And regarding Margot Robbie's performance, I found it very disappointing and amateurish. Regardless the fact that she's not as bulky or athletic as the real Tonya, she played a white trash, foul-mouthed Tonya Harding that never existed. Her interpretation of a redneck is purely stereotypical. Also, I don't know where Robbie's accent came from, since real-life Tonya doesn't have that strong southern accent - she's from Portland, come on! It's an annoying accent that appears and disappears throughout the movie, alongside with the numerous bad words (some of them included by Robbie herself) and a very artificial, rude way to talk that Harding didn't have. Robbie didn't convince me and made me feel NOTHING for her character.

On the other side, Allison Janney is BRILLIANT as Tonya's mother. She could flawless play a sociopath, and truly deserves at least an Oscar nomination as a supporting actress. Another good surprise in this movie is Paul Walter Hauser's acting.

To sum it all up, this is a mediocre movie, that didn't entertain me (how am I supposed to find funny a story with so much domestic violence?), and didn't move me. It also barely tells who in fact Tonya Harding was. It is a superficial, bidimensional portrait of a woman who's surely much more complex than what was shown in the movie.
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3/10
Make up your mind! What kind of movie are you making?
DJWinston31 December 2017
What kind of movie was this supposed to be? Because it bounced back and forth between dead-on realism (Rawlinson) and raw violence (domestic and parental) to satire? (Harding's interview recreations) and absurdist comedy (Eckardt - good lord!) to the point where I just didn't know what the filmmaker(s) were trying to accomplish. I learned nothing new about Harding's story here, so maybe my POV on the story was the target? If so, you need to pick a tone and stick to it. Because I felt continually jerked around, I came out of this movie within antagonism toward the whole enterprise and sympathy for none.

And as for the acting, I personally thought Robbie was terribly miscast as Harding---didn't believe her for a moment, and Janney, while competent and entertaining, can play this type of supporting role in her sleep and did nothing here to convince me otherwise.

I just ended up feeling that maybe this movie was better suited for the Lifetime TV channel--although even there a couple of reality TV documentaries have told the same story in a more interesting manner.
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8/10
Fun Film
Sober-Friend31 December 2017
Tonya Harding rises through the ranks of competitive figure skating only to find disgrace when her husband tries to eliminate her rival.

This film is cleverly done. It is done as a dark comedy like "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" and "To Die For". What both films did was take a comic look at a true life event. "I Tonya" is cut from the same cloth.

The acting in this film is great but Allison Janney is sorely missed when she is not on the screen.
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9/10
Extremely Involving Movie That Tells a Crazy but True Story With Equal Parts Tragedy and Comedy
CANpatbuck36648 January 2018
I wasn't old enough to process Tonya Harding's story when it was going on, so I can only describe this movie as a fresh face. I loved how this movie played into the wild and varied accounts about Tonya's life. Instead of presenting one version and calling it "the truth" (which Harding even talks about through voice over in the final scene), they present different accounts through Harding (played by Margot Robbie), Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) and the movie is very ambiguous about what happened. This was refreshing, the story is just so bizarre no matter whose account you choose to believe. It allows the creative team the freedom to cherry-pick what they want to show, and I was constantly engaged. Normally I'm critical when the stray from the facts in a biopic but no one will ever "actually" know what happened, so the movie has some fun with it without straying into implausibility.

So, knowing that the movie toys with the story a little, I still was floored by the characters and the character development. Tonya Harding, whether she was guilty or not, became a sympathetic in my eyes. I'm not saying that what she did was right or that Kerrigan deserved it (that shouldn't even be a question) but with the kind of upbringing she had, was she going to be an emotionally stable adult? I would say no. Even though the world decided she was the villain, her work ethic and her perseverance made her endearing to me. Gillooly and Golden are villains and they're monsters but the movie makes them characters that you want to follow. Add in one of the dumbest characters I've seen on screen in Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser) and a surprisingly informative narrator in Martin Maddox (Bobby Cannavale) and you have a movie populated by unforgettable characters that all have a surprising amount of depth.

I've talked about the characters and how closely the movie sticks to the facts, but I wanted to add how sharp of a script I think this was. The movie is hilarious at points and it just breaks your heart at others. The dialogue is always sharp (even though its vulgar as h@!!) and I found the movie suspenseful throughout. They also present serious issues like spousal/familial abuse in a different light. Tonya faces violence daily and instead of stopping the movie to show it, its very much treated as an everyday occurrence. It is shocking and every time you're starting to have too much fun, it just sobers you up completely. It was a bold but effective choice to show how screwed up her life was. Add in the great 4th wall breaking and narration from different characters, they really produced something special with this.

The script was great, but Gillespie and his team shot the crap out of this too. The skating and action scenes are dynamic with the camera constantly moving and showing things from different angles. What Tonya and the other skaters do as athletes is an art and the movie shows that. I also thought the movie was gritty but had a sense of style. There's also a neat shot showing the passage of time after one of Tony and Jeff's breakups that weaves things together beautifully. Instead of just skating by, the movie committed to making things exciting from a visual standpoint.

I, Tonya has also garnered some deserved praise for the actors and actresses. Even as a fan, I was blown away by Margot Robbie as Tonya. She doesn't look like Harding, but her performance has so much emotion and effort in it that she capably carries this movie. She's probably going to get an Oscar nomination for this and she deserves it. She's got tons of talent and I hope she gets more roles like this. I was expecting great things from Robbie, but the surprising performance was Sebastian Stan as Jeff. He really did great work, he's the underrated one in this cast. He capably plays Jeff as a slimy/bad guy but complex nonetheless. Allison Janney is just evil as LaVona and she's also deserving of the praise/award recognition for her work. She's so awful but you can't turn away because of Janney's performance. Paul Walter Hauser is perfect in the worst way for Shawn. He's so stupid and Hauser plays up the idiocy of the character so well. I also liked Bobby Cannavale in his small role, he's a nice mix of sleazy and funny that helps round out the story.

I only have 1 criticism of this movie and its not the one that most of the reviews have. The biggest complaint I've heard about the movie is the CGI in the skating sequences, that its obvious that they've put Margot Robbie's head on another skater. I didn't think it was a seamless effect, but I never had a problem with it. My problem was that they made the decision to have Robbie and Stan play the 15-16 year old versions of Harding and Gillooly and while I get it would have been an awkward transition (by the end of the movie, Harding is only 23 so how else could they have done it?) I still found it hard to buy them at those points. I don't want to blame the actors, but it just came off as a rare misstep for a largely flawless movie.

This is one of 2017's best movies for me. It was highly praised and after seeing it, I think rightly so. I think the acting, direction and script were all impressive and the movie came together to be something worth going to see. I wish it had a bigger release, I had to go out of my way to see this but I, Tonya is a great sports biopic that breaks the mold. Check this out if you get the chance.
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7/10
An insider view of Tonya Harding
chong_an24 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tonya Harding is known in figure skating as the 1st woman to land a Triple Axel in competition, but also for her involvement in the physical attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. This docu-drama is based on interviews from Tonya, her mother, her coach, and some of the co-conspirators, mixing them with re-creations and some historic footage. It shows the difficulty of a poor kid battling into a sport dominated by upper-middle class princesses. While mostly taking the word of the interviewees, the director inserts hints that Tonya may not be as innocent as she claims. There is also an interesting undermining of Tonya's complaint about Nancy being despondent about winning silver at the 1994 Olympics - listen for the placing announcements before the final skate.

This film is 1st runner-up for the People's Choice Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival. However, for me it was marred by the use of music with lyrics at her 1st skating competition, something that would not have been allowed. On the flip side, I can accept the switch in music after she succeeds in her historic Triple Axel, as a switch from skating music to internal emotion.
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