Ben Oliver

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I, Tonya

There’s no such thing as truth. It’s bullshit.
01 March 2020

The story of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), an American figure skater whose husband organised for someone to go and break her main rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg.

This does what it can to avoid being a Wikipedia script put to screen, and for that I, Tonya deserves at least some credit. Her mother (Allison Janney), her husband (Sebastian Stan) and Tonya herself all take over the narrative (and narration) at various points, and each of them are clearly unreliable sources of information. For a while at least this is quite funny.

However, it is ironic that a film trying put forward a more sympathetic idea of Harding leaves the final verdict to the court of public opinion. The script lashes out at the media and even at the audience (“you are my aggressors” says Robbie straight to the camera), but how are we supposed to believe this after everything that came before?

I, Tonya has the boldness of Scorsese with none of the taste or sensitivity. It is jam-packed with musical cues that don’t fit and weak attempts at flashy camerawork. It portrays its protagonist as a victim of abuse but doesn’t seem to give a shit about this aspect of her life. Domestic abuse is just another thing for the audience to decide if it happened or not.

Allison Janney is one of the best living actresses, so fans of hers will want to see her excellent performance here as Harding’s impenetrable mother, LaVona.

Other than that I, Tonya is best avoided. It’s not offensively bad, but rarely have I been left with such a bitter taste in my mouth once the credits roll.