You think you know, but you have no idea. Wasn’t that the slogan for an MTV show? I feel it’s incredibly appropriate here. I used to love watching the Olympics as a kid. Specifically gymnastics in the summer and figure skating in the winter. So I remember watching the Games in question at the heart of I, Tonya. I still remember how the results turned out, and of course I remember hearing about “the incident”. Except, I didn’t know the full story, did I?
So here’s how the movie went down. Screenwriter Steven Rogers set out to interview Tonya Harding and her now ex-husband Jeff Gillooly to find out what happened back in ’94. What he got were two very contradictory accounts, which is what drove the structure of this film. Going all the way back to Tonya’s childhood thru the ’94 Olympics, we have not one, but two unreliable narrators who are constantly interrupting and one upping each other (often breaking the fourth wall) to try and get their version of the story out. The result is absolutely bonkers.
I saw this at a Q&A with Robbie and some of the crew, and she stated that when she first read the script, she assumed it had to be fiction. That’s how crazy it was. But she was thrown by how specific some of the details were. When she found out that it was in fact a true story, she was hooked. And she does some of her career best work as this character. Those of us who were already familiar with Tonya prolly think of her as a psychotic villain. Robbie brings a vulnerability to her and makes her a sympathetic and full character, while still retaining that feist and fire she’s known for. I was truly impressed with the depth she brought to it.
However, the real gold medalist (and potentially gold Oscarist) for me is Allison Janney, who played Tonya’s mom. Scene stealing bitch, I loved her so much. There is such bite in every bit of dialog that she says, it’s something that just has to be witnessed. I’ve seen all the supporting actress frontrunners and this point, and she absolutely would have my vote.
The whole movie was such a 90’s flashback, and I loved every second of it. Throw in the unconventional narrative structure and the great cast and I was in a sequined heaven for two hours.
I, Tonya – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/