Magazine article Screen International

'I, Tonya': Toronto Review

Magazine article Screen International

'I, Tonya': Toronto Review

Article excerpt

A perfect score for Margot Robbie playing the 90s tabloid sensation and Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding

Dir. Craig Gillespie. US, 2017, 121 mins

Australian actress Margot Robbie produced I, Tonya, and she also stars in this funny, biting film about the titular rebel redneck figure skater who became the centre of one of the first-ever TV tabloid storms back in 1994. Smart moves, both. While it’s a consistently entertaining and often poignant film which addresses a wide range of issues under the stealth cover of humour, I, Tonya also gives Robbie the chance - her first, really - to show her full range as an actress. And she shines.

If these characters seem outsized, that’s because they were: real-life footage at the end of I Tonya reveals a cast of characters that even the Cohen Brothers couldn’t make up

With Allison Janney on the sidelines, I Tonya also benefits from a smart script from veteran Steven Rogers and smooth twizzle from director Craig Gillespie. High scores all round, then, for this independently-produced Toronto-premiering drama which should land on a lucrative deal by the end of the festival.

After last year’s celluloid exhumation of the OJ case, I ,Tonya looks back at the scandal that immediately preceded it: the court of trial by TV and the infamous 1994 “incident” when American figure skating and the Lillehammer Olympics were rocked by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan imbroglio in which Kerrigan was attacked by goons inadvertently hired by Harding’s husband, Jeff Gilhooly (Sebastian Stan). Australian director Craig Gillespie (Lars And The Real Girl) delivers a funny, bittersweet ode to the times and production designer Jade Healy has a blast with white-trash early 90s interiors, alongside period hairdos, moustaches and a score that incorporates everything from Vivaldi to the largely forgotten Lora Brannigan 80s blaster Gloria.

But I, Tony is more than just fun, funny though it may be. Its depiction of Harding as an abused child and a verbal and physical punchbag - for her appalling mother LaVona (Janney), her dimbulb husband Jeff, and ultimately the American media and public - has a powerful sting. …

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