I, Tonya

I, Tonya ★★★★½

I, Tonya is fucking outstanding.

Incredibly acted, smartly written, tense, beautiful, grueling, painful, funny, biting, shrewd, and comprehensive. It brought me to tears and to laughter multiple times. It's my second favorite film of the year. However, It's also a frank and tonally-upsetting portrait of familial and domestic abuse that will make it one of the hardest films to watch this year.

In my opinion, the Kerrigan incident isn't the big cornerstone of this film. It's a necessary part of the story, and it's what people will go for, but the real outstanding story of the film is Tonya Harding's relationships with Jeff Gilooly and her mother. And the scenes about these relationships will make this movie insanely frustrating to sit through with some audiences. I got to see it amongst an audience that found themselves laughing at the very notion that American sweetheart Allison Janney would ever say (gasp) a swear word, which quickly became a nightmare movie scenario as these moments were interspersed between scenes of brutal violence and mental manipulation and terrible choices that aren't meant to be funny, but are painfully understandable for anyone who has ever been through anything similar. It's jarring in a way that will be triggering to plenty of women (and men too, I'm sure) but also honest and smart in a way that forces the audience to reckon with their understanding and impression of Tonya Harding's life in a way that, for lack of a better expression, is gonna be a shattering glass moment.

It's not a flawless movie, though! I hope the VFX gets better closer to its release, because the face replacement in every skating scene is very noticeable and very bad. It's also got a stunning lack of women involved on the production side (which was a surprise I realized after the movie, but might not be surprising to... actual women) and an insanely white cast– save for a few throwaway cop roles, the entire racial representation of the movie is in Bobby Cannavale's spray tan– but I'm sure this criticism will get cast aside as "well, the true story was pretty white too." Yeah, probably.

This movie is going to get so many unfair comparisons to Wolf of Wall Street because it's a darkly comic biopic starring Margot Robbie, and that sucks because it's far better than Wolf of Wall Street (and probably way more responsible with its depiction of the person at its center.) And thank god it includes footage of the real interviews and clips at the end, because some of the story would play as unbelievable and "overly comic" otherwise. It's a wonderful, unflinching, dark, dark comedy. Steven Rogers, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan, and Paul Walter Hauser all deserve nominations for their work here. (although I reserve the right to say uhh just kidding when we get a deluge of oscar-worthy movies over the next two months)

Also– let's stop pretending Margot Robbie isn't a really good fuckin' actor!!!!!!!!!!! Guys!!!!!! SHE'S GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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