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Review: 'I, Tonya'

The True Story of Tonya Harding's Path to Being the Best Figure Skater in the World

As I'm a big fans sports fan, I am already aware of this particular incident that the film is covering.

The story itself is quite fascinating and does show America in its darkest side of stereotype. We all know America's strong mentality to win and dominate. This is wonderfully portrayed in this dark story, and I am pretty positive people who watch this film and are not aware of the story will be totally amazed by it.

What I noticed early on was that it was going to tell this story as a dark comedy. It was a bold move, but it certainly put me at ease early on with some top comedic moments. Director Craig Gillespie and his team could have gone serious with its tone, but to make it more of a comedy that is similar to Goodfellas, Wolf Of Wall Street or even The Big Short at times made this a much more enjoyable viewing experience than I expected.

It even included some solid uses of breaking the fourth wall. The first half was very strong, and then the second half portrays the craziness section of the story pretty well. However, despite being accurate, I did find it hard to completely enjoy it. This was because it just reminded me how dumb and stupid some of these characters were. That kind of thing can be hard to make you invest and root for the characters involved. But if the shock value of the story can keep you gripped, then the whole run-time will be nothing short of phenomenal for you.

Margot Robbie was very good as the lead. She was believable as the rugged and redneck Tonya Harding and really made you think about how Harding herself was treated and if it was right. I am actually getting pretty impressed with the choices Robbie is making. On the surface, she does strike you as the type of actor that because of her popularity and looks, she would just turn to mainstream films. But she has gone for a lot of highly acclaimed projects. I think she may be more of a method actor.

While Robbie's performance is deservedly being recognised, the real stand-out is Allison Janney. The in-your-face character she is portraying is just a comedic delight, even when it gets incredibly dark. Everything she did was spot on and the majority of the comedy comes from execution with the high quality dialogue. Do not be surprised if she just sweeps the major awards.

Another scene stealer—particularly in the second half—was Paul Walter Hauser's character. He does end up being one of the dumb characters that you just can't believe is a real person. But the accurate portrayal made me feel shocked once again.

I was so pleased to see how good Sebastian Stan was. You will probably know him for playing the Winter Soldier in the Marvel superhero films. But he is almost unrecognisable in this vital role. He never felt out of place and felt like a well-established actor that has done a variety of things. I hope this memorable performance opens more doors for him outside of the mainstream.

My final mention in the acting aspect of the film is going to the terrific child actor Grace McKenna. She is not in it for long. But it is long enough to be integral to the story. I first saw her last summer in Gifted, and she was a complete triumph. It is more of the same, and be on the look out for any more projects she is part of. A true star, she is.

I only have the cinematography, editing, and a bit of the visual effects to comment from its technical side. A lot of the camerawork in the skating scenes reminded me of the execution of the ballet sequences in Black Swan, so it consists of a lot of shaking, but not enough to disorientate you or confuse you as to what is going on.

The quick cuts in the editing really gave a romping pace, which just added to the enjoyment of it all.

As for the visual effects, you can tell that Robbie's face is super-imposed during the skating scenes. But I don't think it took me out of the moment, so I think to the untrained eye, it may look genuine to you.

So while I did enjoy a lot of it, I preferred the first half to the second. Like I said before, it was mainly due to me just being annoyed by these stupid characters doing something so despicable. It was only a minor negative, as I was aware of the story and its end result. But just seeing it unfurl on screen just made me get annoyed with the decisions some of these characters were making, and therefore made it hard for me to care or root for them.

Also, while I liked the soundtrack, I think at times it was a bit on-the-nose. Those things just about prevented it from being one of the standouts from 2017.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this. If you know story and/or were around at the time of the incident, the biggest you might get out of this this film is that it could make you see Tonya Harding in a completely different way. It could very well make you revisit this story and read about it in detail.

But for people who are not aware, then I think you will be thoroughly entertained with a shocking story and many performances that were very well-directed.

I think Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in particular deserve the awards and nominations that they are getting. I would have liked Sebastian Stan to have been nominated for something in the major awards, as his performance was a really big surprise.

I must finally mention that in the early part of the end credits, they show some actual footage of the story. It is quite impressive as to how accurate they executed in the film when you compare the two.

Rating: 8/10

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