I’m not a huge sports fan, but the triple axel jump is my new obsession. I’m lucky if I can even make a full lap on the ice without totally wiping out.
The story of Tonya Harding is one I remember vividly from childhood, but my memory had nothing to do with her skating skills. My gym teacher taught us a lesson on sportsmanship using Tonya as the example of what not to do. I remember Nancy Kerrigan on the news crying out, “whyyyy!” At the time, my seven-year-old mind imagined Tonya sharpening her blade and slicing up Nancy herself. Society made Tonya Harding out to be a monster, but the story in I, Tonya paints a very different picture.
Margot Robbie has taken her acting skills to the next level. She goes ALL IN as Tonya Harding, and her performance will steal your soul. The passion and drive she exudes on screen will have you in the moment for every scene. She is tenacious and confident in her balance between humorous and heart wrenching in every moment. Robbie’s performance is heightened by all of the talent surrounding her, as well. Allison Janney will have you laughing to the point of tears in her performance as Tonya’s mother. I, Tonya was perfectly casted to create the most dynamic group of characters that I’ve seen in years.
Don’t be surprised when Tonya looks right at you and calls you out. As you might have noticed in the trailer, the film breaks the fourth wall in an amazing way, adding to the engaging story. Director Craig Gillespie tells the tale with both mockumentary and narrative storytelling. I feel like Gillespie was in some ways inspired by the work of Christopher Guest, particularly during the mock interview setups that quite humorously show character perspectives. The camera movements by cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis are unique and noteworthy. The movement and flow of the camera work play out like an ice skating routine. Some of the long shots will have you scratching your head trying to figure out how they could’ve been pulled off.
All of this amazing creativity comes together to tell the tale that many people think they already know. My mom always says there are three sides to every story, and this movie proves that’s the case. Expect to laugh, cry, and feel some level of guilt. You will leave the theater respecting the triple axel and anyone who dares to attempt the move. Most of all, though? You’ll finally see Tonya Harding as more than just a punchline.