DIRECTOR: Craig Gillespsie
Some people in the millennial age bracket won’t have one clue who Tonya Harding is and her notoriety. If you fall in that age bracket then buy the ticket and come back to this blog as there’s a couple of spoilers below.
This film takes you on a thrill ride of what the hell happened to Tonya Harding, what created her, her worldview and how she was prisoner to decisions being made around her.
LaVona Golden: I made you a champion, knowing you’d hate me for it. That’s the sacrifice a mother makes! I wish I’d had a mother like me instead of nice. Nice gets you shit! I didn’t like my mother either, so what? I fucking gave you a gift!
Tonya Harding: You cursed me.
The film is executed well and plays out as part drama, part tragicomedy that wants you to think highly in how the film’s narrative is told. The film’s poster reads “The Goodfellas of figure skating.” That statement alone means straight away the film wants recognition.
A film term one learns in film school and media studies classes is “ Breaking the fourth wall.” Explain please. You watch the film and the people on screen can see their surrounding whether it be screen left (first wall), screen right (second wall) and behind them(third wall). What is in front of them is the camera recording them, they shouldn’t know it’s there. When they become aware of it, they themselves are aware that they’re in a film. This was used well in Goodfellas and Craig Gillespie attempts to copy that here. He borrows from documentary genre to tell his story with characters directly addressing the camera. At times when they are in a scene, the characters will narrate and speak to camera with other characters none the wiser. It works at times but a drawback to using it is overusing it. Learning a new trick is fascinating the first few times you test it but if you try that trick too often with the same friends, they’ll get sick of it. I, Tonya does fall into that same trick at times during the two hour film.
The film is entertaining and enjoyable in the trashiest of ways, you get your ticket’s worth. The pace of the film is good but Tonya is seen simply as a character caught in that pace. There is no time spent to learn about her as a human being instead how interrupted and reactive her life is by the choices of others.
Watching I, Tonya and seeing what Tonya Harding had to deal with in her life it’s no wonder why she is emotionally and mentally off centre. Her supposed family in her mother and husband teaches you sometimes we may need enemies in our life as a springboard to go on and move forward. Perhaps, just perhaps people need an enemy so those like Tonya can finally make a decision.
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding
Allison Janney as Lavona Golden
Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly