Our top 5 reasons to see I, Tonya
One of the most buzzed-about films at TIFF, I, Tonya, is finally in theatres. In case you haven't heard about the film, it tells the (mostly?) true story of Tonya Harding, one of America's top figure skaters in the 90s, who was banned from the sport when her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, confessed to conspiring in an orchestrated attack on Tonya's chief rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
Using a faux-documentary approach, even recreating old TV interviews with the people involved, the film cleverly keeps things ambiguous as to exactly how much Harding knew about the planned attack at the time. Whether you remember the original events or not, the story is a compelling one, and the movie is getting much-deserved awards buzz for very good reason. Here are our top five reasons you should see I, Tonya:
Robbie's an actress who's been getting attention for a while thanks to her breakout performances in Suicide Squad and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but her performance as Tonya Harding may finally win her the award accolades she deserves. She inhabits Harding's persona remarkably well, capturing both her tough, take-no-prisoners exterior and her innate vulnerability, as well as the sheer joy she feels on the ice. It's love of the sport that drove Harding to become the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel in competition, and Robbie makes that passion leap off the screen.
The role of Harding's mother, LaVona, seems almost made for Janney. Taking the pushy stage-mother to new lows of bitter abuse, she's practically the villain of the film. Constantly berating her daughter, she makes you wonder if Harding succeeded because of her mother's incessant invective, or in spite of it. Either way, it's a remarkable performance because even though it's a very serious role, her every line makes you chuckle and think "did she really say that??"
We confess, skating is not our favourite winter pastime. Which is why it's all the more incredible to us to watch the intricate, complex balletics combined with raw, muscular power that make up the sport of figure skating. Robbie did do some of her own skating in the movie, and the scenes of competitive performance are thrillingly shot, making the viewer feel like you're out there on the Olympic ice with Harding, landing hard jumps on the edge of one blade.
The Supporting Cast
While the standout performances are Robbie and Janney, the entire cast of this film is bringing their A-game. We'll admit, Sebastian Stan will always be The Winter Soldier to us. But here, he's transformed into the volatile, well-intentioned but not intellectually gifted Gillooly. And the true revelation is Paul Walter Hauser as Gillooly's best friend and Harding's "bodyguard", Shawn Eckhardt. Bearing a remarkable resemblance to the real-life Eckhardt, Hauser imbues the self-proclaimed "international counter-terrorism expert" with a kind of stoner bravado that would be right at home in a Seth Rogen movie.
For a movie with some pretty serious themes and undertones, it's unexpectedly hilarious. Brilliantly mixing Harding's own sharp tongue with the almost slapstick follies of some of her well-meaning, idiot friends and acquaintances, it's a movie that will have you chuckling while you shake your head wondering how these people got themselves into this mess.
Bonus Reason: 90s Fashions
Those of us who are old enough to have lived through the actual era when these events took place can't help but feel a certain shameful familiarity with the now-unfortunate fashion choices on display. Remember scrunchies??
Watch the trailer below and click here for showtimes: