"It's a physically and emotionally demanding performance, and Robbie doesn't take a single false step". And she had the wrong kind of femininity for the sport she loved, too, because those judges didn't want to see a ZZ Top routine from someone who sewed her own costume, even if it did include a flawlessly executed triple axel.
Therein lies the real tragedy behind I, Tonya. That's both apt and more than a little disingenuous, since the hasty, fickle judgment of the masses is one of the movie's chief satirical targets. She has already earned Best Actress nominations from the Critics' Choice, Independent Spirit, and Gotham Awards for her lead performance as figure skater Tonya Harding, who was the center of scandal in 1994 when her rival Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
Alissa Wilkinson (Vox): "Craig Gillespie's take on Tonya's story, the hilarious and gut-punching 'I, Tonya, ' is a almost pitch-perfect black comedy that distills the sensational story into two potent insights very relevant to 2017".
The director, Craig Gillespie, whose "Lars and the Real Girl" (2007) was a very different but equally delicate balancing act, handles "I, Tonya" expertly, juggling shifting points of view and modulating tones and treating the more sordid aspects of Harding's life-the domestic violence, notably-with no unnecessary judgments or exploitation.
Its point seems to be that while the truth may be uncertain, the public can always be counted on to jump to the most sordid possible conclusions. She told Entertainment Weekly that screenwriter Steven Rogers wasn't able to track down Golden, who is now estranged from her daughter. Shuffling a cast of clashing voices who riff and annotate the story as it goes along, the movie dares us to guess whether we are watching a truthful depiction, a garish exaggeration or a snarky amalgam of both. This is so exciting.' Then I was like, 'Oh sh**, I've got to do this now and get into the mind of her character.' I had to try and work out how to justify what she does as a mother. They re-enact the interviews themselves, so we see Robbie as the adult Tonya, dragging on a cigarette, proclaiming her "white trash" heritage. But it's what The Price of Gold does with Tonya's interviews that makes the documentary unmissable. In any case, not all the blows she endures are physical. Although the Jeff in the "present day" sequences is muted and introspective, offering deep insights into how his decisions would go on to shape the culture, in the rest of the film, he is an abusive leech, incapable of offering anything to Tonya except psychological obsession as she climbs the ranks of U.S. Figure Skating. This alone makes the film worth a watch. "I wrote a short piece about it here".
These are cheaply entertaining but unoriginal gambits, and after two viewings I'm not convinced they're warranted. When Tonya's coach Diane Rawlinson (an excellent Julianne Nicholson) marvels, "She really did that!" in reference to an especially grueling training regimen, it's not exactly the stuff of revelation.
Let's tackle the attack on Nancy Kerrigan first. Tonya also had a brief career as a boxer and is most famous for her bout with former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones (whose sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton precipitated his impeachment in 1998). Although some characters are better sketched than others - Sean Eckardt, perhaps deservedly so, never registers beyond buffoon status, while Jeff Gillooly's characterization feels imperfect, perhaps on account of the intentionally contradictory nature of the narrative - by and large, "I, Tonya" is populated by a range of deeply eccentric and utterly memorable characters. Once she finally flees her mother's cruelty, she moves in with Gillooly - a leap from the frying pan to the fire if ever there was one. As she put it, "I got to come out and skate one more time for all my fans".