Appropriately receiving it’s release in the middle of the current Winter Olympics in South Korea, ‘I, Tonya’ is a sports biopic about former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. Margot Robbie plays the titular role, as well as producing the film, and leads an all-star cast including Sebastian Stan & Allison Janney. Director Craig Gillespie is no stranger to retelling true stories and the amount of awards attention the film has garnered would suggest he’s been successful in this instance, but will ‘I, Tonya’ achieve a perfect six with audiences?
Well if it was just down to the cast I would expect so. All of the performers here are fantastic and share a remarkable likeness to the real life individuals that they are portraying. Margot Robbie is brilliant in the lead role and once more proves what a capable performer she is, which will hopefully result in more leading roles for the talented actress. The supporting cast all similarly excel and each of them work well together creating believable relationships and chemistry. The attention to detail showcased in the production is one of the most striking elements to the film. In terms of the costumes, skating routines and performances it’s clear that extreme care has been taken in recreating this story as accurately as possible. It’s all executed alongside an energetic soundtrack which is full of songs from the era the film is set in, suiting the edginess of the main character and her less conventional family upbringing.
The way in which the story is told will be the area in which most debate among audiences will arise from. It begins as a quite typical sports biopic, albeit with rather extreme characters, however it then develops into a somewhat unexpected crime drama. For those who aren’t aware of Harding’s story this might upset the pace of the film slightly. Nonetheless, the film is edited together quite masterfully, using recreated interviews from all the major players in Harding’s story and then more standard scenes of drama. This method of storytelling is put to good use as it demonstrates how different people can recall the same events in completely opposite ways. This worked well for humour on some occasions but also allows for some leeway in the factual gaps in the narrative. Characters also sporadically break the fourth wall, at first as it often can be this was jarring to a certain degree. Although audiences will become accustomed to this as the film progresses and the interview style of storytelling somewhat lends itself to this as well as the characters already feel like they are talking directly to the audience. Each of their unique takes on the overall story certainly make for a entertaining viewing experience.
So who knew that there was so much drama behind all that sequin of figure skating? ‘I, Tonya’ is successful in presenting a fascinating, yet troublesome narrative which results in a consistently crazy ride. It brings ethics and morals to the forefront of the audiences minds and as a result demands a certain level of engagement from them. Although there are some problems with the pacing which ultimately does make the film feel long, by the time the credits role it feels like a wholly worthwhile watch. Stick around after too as the real footage of characters and moments from the film shown during those credits is testament to that attention to detail which I discussed earlier.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite Margot Robbie film role?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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