I, Tonya Review
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Figure skating is the kind of sport that requires grace and poise. Its stars are generally seen as prim and polished and disciplined. But in the 1990s, the figure skating world was shaken up by a hard-working, trash-talking, controversial competitor, whose story is told in I, Tonya.

I, Tonya stars Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, a talented figure skater who spent her entire life on the ice, with her mother (Allison Janney) shouting criticism and profanities from the stands. On the ice, she was an unlikely star, becoming the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition. Off the ice, she lived a troubled life, suffering abuse first from her mother and then from her husband, Jeff (Sebastian Stan). And as she prepared to qualify for the 1994 Olympics, she found herself at the center of the sport’s greatest controversy.

  
 
I, Tonya is an unconventional biopic for an unconventional figure. Tonya Harding wasn’t the typical prim and proper figure skater—and this isn’t the typical prim and proper award season biopic. It’s darkly comical and unruly, recreating interviews and retelling the story from the character’s perspectives with often outrageous results.

Tonya’s story isn’t a story of privilege; it’s a story about a poor upbringing, a broken home, and a long history of abuse. It’s the story of a girl who, despite the obstacles in her way, fought her way to the top of her sport, only to have it all come crumbling down around her in the most unbelievable of ways.

Robbie’s performance perfectly captures the spirit and the personality of this controversial character, telling her story with plenty of grit, a fair amount of anger, and just the slightest hint of vulnerability. But her Tonya is never really a sympathetic character. She’s rough and foul-mouthed, a self-proclaimed redneck with an amazing talent for skating. And in her dramatized interviews, she’s cynical and blunt, making some interesting observations that offer a new perspective on her whole remarkable story.

Everything (and everyone) here is just so astonishingly dim-witted and amusingly trashy, from Tonya’s snarling mother to her delusional “bodyguard” (Paul Walter Hauser) and his misguided plans. Had this been a fictional film, people might complain that it was all too ridiculous and contrived. But the fact that it’s all true makes it so much more captivating.

I, Tonya isn’t the kind of dramatic biopic that’s meant to move and inspire and tug at audiences’ heartstrings. It’s every bit as brash and outrageous as the character herself—a wild and crazy train wreck on ice.


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