I, Tonya ★★★

With the most effective trailer of 2017, I, Tonya turned out to meet my expectations more than any film this year. That said, I had two reservations:

1. I, Tonya ultimately fails to heed its own warning, made explicitly and adhered to beautifully in the first act, by committing too much to a particular "version of the truth" in the interests of stoking a cathartic sympathy for the title character. In real life (and, at times, in this film), Harding exhibited a remarkable lack of self-awareness during the course of constantly banging the drum of her own innocence/victimhood (e.g., "Can I just say one more thing about Nancy Kerrigan...") - an aspect to her character that the filmmakers hoped we would conveniently forget in the last 10-20 minutes.

2. We are all aware of that annoying trope in every other romantic comedy set in high school where the filmmakers put glasses on a 21-year-old model and attempt to sell her as the "geeky" or "ugly" girl. Along the same lines, to this cinephile who actually lived through the 24-hour news cycle in January 1994, casting Margot Robbie as the title character just did not work. In my book, there are certain aspects to portraying a figure so ubiquitous to the public consciousness that cannot be overcome by performance alone. And I would submit that the relationship between Harding and the powers that be in women's figure skating - and later, the public in general - was indelibly rooted in Harding's distinct lack of traditional femininity, which was something that the 2016 face of Calvin Klein just could not physically convey with trashy outfits and bad wigs. (I know, I know ... I feel just terrible for saying this because so few roles in major motion pictures go to women like Robbie.)

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