I, Tonya ★★★½

Kind of the perfect movie for Tonya Harding: far too much raw power to ignore, but its complete lack of decorum and impoverished roots keep it from getting the recognition it aspired to. It's a wildly ambitious movie: few biopics even bother taking on the subjective nature of truth, to say nothing of smartly treating the cycles of abuse, chronicling the development of the 24-hour news cycle (placing Harding in a chronology with OJ is a bit of quiet genius), and attempting to stigmatize the viewer in a Haneke-lite kind of way, all while trying to be constantly entertaining, explaining the mechanics of iceskating, breaking the fourth wall at aperiodic intervals, and pulling off moments of Scorseseian brio on the catering budget of THE IRISHMAN. Oh, and providing a showcase for several great performances. (Of which, honestly? Janney's is like sixth best.)

Films are multivalent in a way that ratings can't encompass, and I'm not surprised to have seen a few 1 to 1.5 star ratings for this, as for all its strengths, where it flails mercilessly is in its treatment of class. There's a germ of an idea about class and Tonya's place relative to other skaters, but it's inconsistently followed through, and through production design and costuming every frame overemphasizes her class standing to the point of grotesquerie. Because film is so expensive, it's hard to imagine what a film of resources would be like from creators who are truly *of* that class. All I know is the latest AMERICAN CRIME STORY did a much sharper job of dissecting class issues, and granted it has length, but there's something about the treatment here that grates like sandpaper. Some have pointed to the erasure of Nancy Kerrigan's own class standing, and maybe that would have helped, but I think also it's a testament to a disjunct between writer and director, and how a script can have certain intentions that transform in the hands of the director? But maybe not; I haven't read it.

All of which is to say, to those of you consider this an abomination and me a terrible person for largely liking it, I hear you, and I recognise my class privilege, but I still judge on many levels, and I got too much out of this to throw it to the curb for what it does wrong. But I understand if you do.