EntertainmentMovie Reviews

I, Tonya Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest box office hits like Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets, you can click right HERE!

In the heart of Oscar season, I, Tonya is finally hitting theaters, and I was lucky enough to check it out! I’ve loved Margot Robbie in every single movie I’ve seen her in (yes, even Suicide Squad), and I was excited to see her get a shot at an Oscar-type role. The story of Tonya Harding isn’t one that I’m too familiar with, but I knew the basic idea. Or at least I thought I did. It’s one of those Olympic stories that I think we all seem to think that we have a basic understanding of like Jesse Owens, Kerri Strug, or the Miracle on Ice. I, Tonya proved that I didn’t know the story, but I’m glad I found out!

I, Tonya is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, and Sebastian Stan. This movie takes us through the ups, downs, and further downs in the life of Tonya Harding, a United States figure skater who competed for gold in the Olympics twice and was convicted in a trial involving the assault of her one time friend and Team USA teammate Nancy Kerrigan.

She might be the biggest leading lady in Hollywood right now, but Margot Robbie hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar yet. I think that will change when the nominees are announced this year. Margot Robbie is amazing in this role, and up to this point, I, Tonya is easily her best performance. She does an incredible job of peeling back the layers of this character, and her story isn’t pretty. Nothing about Tonya Harding’s life was pretty, and Robbie captures that perfectly. Every single layer of Harding and her surroundings made me believe in her as a genuine person, and I walked out of the movie theater with an actual understanding of her reasoning. While I don’t endorse a lot of what she did, and I don’t think that a lot of her actions made her a great person, I completely understand why she was like this. She didn’t know anything else, and she was never set-up to become any other way. Her home environment, along with her mother played brilliantly by Allison Janney, never let her believe that she could have been different. She was never allowed to believe that there was a better approach to life or a better approach to relationships with people. I also found the story fascinating. I, Tonya is mainly a character study of Tonya Harding, but the story is absolutely insane, and truly sad. The further along the movie progressed, the more I was amazed by every single person surrounding Tonya Harding, and if I didn’t know that this was a true story, I would never buy it. I would never believe that this group of absolute idiots would be able to organize this plan. It blew me away. Tonya Harding is the only one in the story who had any sense of direction. As skewed as it may have been from her upbringing, it was still the only one she had. As someone who knew minor details of the story, I kind of always had Tonya Harding pegged as a villain, but she was really the only one with passion, drive, or purpose, and she just wanted to skate. If it were up to her, she would have gone head-to-head with Nancy Kerrigan for the gold without any subplots or interference, but the people surrounding her went and threw her opportunities away, so the story is honestly upsetting because of how it showcases the wasted potential of Harding in all facets of her life.

My main issue with the movie is on the technical side. I didn’t believe, for a second, that it was Margot Robbie skating in the more complex skating scenes. Nothing against ice skating, but I thought that most of what happened off the ice was more compelling than what happened on the ice, but it was still very noticeable. Ice skating was the one thing that Tonya Harding cared about and was able to immerse herself into, so I wish that I would have been able to buy into those scenes a bit more. I truly think that I, Tonya would have become one of the greatest sports movies of all time if it were able to nail the skating scenes technically. I still think that it’s one of the best stories in a sports movie, but it doesn’t exactly go toe-to-toe with the best in its execution of the sports sequences. I also think that Tonya Harding was the main spectacular piece of the story, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters, but there wasn’t much to a few of the other characters other than stupidity. There’s one in particular that I don’t think even needs to be in the movie. He’s kind of there as an objective voice and to add a little bit of comedy, but he was pretty unnecessary.

Overall, I really liked I, Tonya, and it will be landing in my top twenty movies of the year, a list that I’ll be sure to put out once I’ve seen everything that I want to see. Margot Robbie and the character of Tonya Harding are by far the two best elements in the film. The movie never glamorizes or sugar-coats anything about Harding, and I never thought that she was a perfect moral person who made great choices, but I understood her, and that was the most important thing. I understood why she never thought she could have had more. I understood why she felt like everyone was against her. She was cultured to believe that, and I walked out of the movie feeling really down. I also find the story amazing simply because it happened. Somehow this group of some of the dumbest people to ever live was able to orchestrate this event that ruined the career of the only person in the film who had anything to fight for. It’s sad and amazing at the same time. I was a bit disappointed by the skating scenes, mostly because I could easily tell that Robbie’s face had been placed on someone else’s body. I also think that a lot of the supporting characters are one-note or unnecessary, but I can overlook a lot of that because of how well Tonya Harding was realized. I, Tonya shows exactly how movies can change perspective about a person. In the trailer, Robbie says, as Harding, that America wants someone to love and someone to hate, and the movie is totally right about that. Unfortunately the world isn’t as black and white as America would like it to be. Luckily, we have movies like I, Tonya to give us a deeper look into these situations. I’m going to give I, Tonya an 8.6/10.

Will you be seeing I, Tonya? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

Show More

Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm