I, Tonya portrays the real-life story of figure skater Tonya Harding, portrayed by Margot Robbie, who was the best female figure skater in 1991, as the only one to attempt and complete the triple axel in competition. I find the story to be a very poignant one, as it discusses difficult themes such as abuse.
The film was produced to make you favour Tonya and support her, however, they included the opposing views of the other main characters, such as Jeff and Shawn. This caused the various story-lines to conflict similar to how they did in real life, allowing you to ultimately decide who you thought was telling the truth. Similar to this they provided recreated clips from the interviews after the whole ordeal and showed these at stages throughout, which I thought was a smart way to provide commentary on the story.
What I liked a little less was the breaking of the fourth wall where the audience was directly addressed. However, this was to provide facts and confirm that certain events did happen, in addition to shortening the scenes. I am also unsure to how the same information would have been delivered in another format, unless text was obscuring the screen, which personally I enjoy less.
Something else which I was impressed by was the utter likeness of the real people to their movie counterparts (maybe excluding Jeff/Sebastian Stan). The routines, costumes and interviews were all recreated to a T, even the parrot on LaVona Harding’s shoulder (which I won’t lie, thought was creative license at first).
In this movie it was definitely the small details that mattered. Once Tonya had moved in with Jeff there are various scenes which display LaVona focused on her daughter’s performance. A scene that caught my attention in particular is when she’s working as a waitress; she insists on watching Tonya’s performance to the end to ‘see her face’, reflecting how she truly does care for Tonya, however deeprooted, and doesn’t want her to be continually abused by her partner.
The cinematography in this film was well thought out, with the film being altered to fit the time period of the 90s. The angles used during the skate routines were done to capture the sense of movement on the ice, allowing the audience to feel encapsulated in the experience. The film also had a muted colour scheme, further developing the sense of period.
Having a different take on a story where Tonya Harding was almost consistently being portrayed as the antagonist by the media allows a new narrative to be delivered. The story-line is a shocking one, almost too brutal to believe, and certainly one that Hollywood would find difficult to create if it had not been real life occurrences. Where Marvel movies may have lifted the mood with “witty” humour and (mostly) unnecessary, pointless jokes, ‘I, Tonya’ keeps its sombre tone to address the heartbreaking situations, which I prefer a lot more, as it doesn’t think to make light of serious matters which are still battled all the time in too many households.
Overall this is a film I really enjoyed, and with a film industry so seemingly rapt up in high end blockbuster superhero movies and remakes I found ‘I, Tonya’ to be quite refreshing.