I, Tonya

I, Tonya ★★★★

A stylish and enjoyable biopic, I, Tonya is really modern and clever tragicomedy that glosses over its faults with infectious energy. The style of I, Tonya isn't exactly fresh (there's a lot of Scorsese-isms) but the meta, faux-documentary premise allows the many unreliable narrators to express their viewpoints while maintaining some ambiguity. There's also a great of use of established music (pop, instrumental, and classical) and some snappy editing which keeps it fast paced. Story aside, the style completely won me over. 

The character relationships in I, Tonya are all unhealthy and mostly toxic. Pretty much every character comes out as a bad person even if some retain sympathy. The domestic violence feels downplayed and the film sometimes has trouble pairing its comedic sensibilities with those moments. 

Sports are never just about sporting talent and skill, and the motives and bullshit ideologies in-built in society is what creates situations like the infamous ice skating scandal involving Tonya Harding. I'd have liked to see I, Tonya tackle the privilege and class dynamic associated with "white trash" but it's not particularly bothersome that it doesn't.

The standout characters in I, Tonya are Tonya and her mother. The two actresses - Margot Robbie and Allison Janney - are outstanding in their roles here. Their vulgar and hilarious characters keep the film entertaining throughout its darkest moments. Their testy relationship is also the film's most interesting.

I, Tonya is a fascinating biopic told with skill and style. It's not deep and too unreliable to be a thorough character study, but I, Tonya is an enjoyable and engaging film from beginning to end. Flawed for sure, but I liked it a lot.

2017 Ranked

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