REVIEW: I, Tonya

4 Star

When I caught the news that there was going to be another full-length feature film about figure skating, I toe loop jumped my way to the nearest cinema.

What? You’re surprised? Me – a bloke who regularly sing Dolly Parton’s Jolene and stole the entire boxset of Sex and the City off of his mother when he was 14 – was excited about a figure skating movie. Who saw that coming?

(I just want to clarify, the Jolene-Sex and the City stuff? Yeah, that’s all genuinely true.)

I won’t lie and tell you I know a lot about Tonya Harding. After all, during her infamous scandal, I was still sat on the floor pooing myself. NOTE: Because I was one-year-old; not because I had very little control over my rectum. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the biographical comedy.


I’ll do a quick summary of Tonya Harding for anyone who missed the drama in 1994 or for anyone who was still shitting themselves. The figure-skater came under fire, after she was accused of conspiring against a fellow skater, Nancy Kerrigan, improving Tonya’s chances of victory at the 1994 Winter Olympics, after Nancy’s knee was broken.

This is, easily, director Craig Gillespie’s finest film. It takes a unique approach to what is quite a harrowing moment in someone’s life. Firstly, it’s a really funny comedy; a really funny comedy about a crude woman who is unloved by her mother; is beaten by her husband; and is assumed to have conspired in breaking her friend’s leg. Maybe that’s where Adam Sandler’s going wrong? He needs more women-beating? (Joke, Adam. Please, please, please just stick to doing drag and less-than-average films.)


Based on interviews by both Tonya and her partner-at-the-time, Jeff Gillooly, I, Tonya follows suit and uses a mockumentary-style. As someone who quotes The Office on a minute-by-minute basis, this couldn’t have pleased me more. This gives Allison Janney yet another chance to shine. As if she needs it – in Oprah’s presidential run, I’m nominating Allison as Secretary of Defence, because not even ISIS would fuck with this woman. (I like to pride myself on the belief that I’m the only person to reference a terror organisation in a review about ice-skating.) The Mom star plays Tonya’s mother, LaVona Fay Golden, who – while sounds like a delight show-girl from Vegas – is far from it; she’s an abusive, miserable woman who seemingly loathes her daughter. And she’s oddly lovable. Whether it’s because I see a lot of my mum in her (LOL. I don’t really – I just hope my mum sees this and feels sorry for me, and buys me a car), or because she’s just so excellent in the role, Allison brings a lot of the laughs. From her outlandish insults to proud parents watching their six-year-olds skating on ice, to her fourth-wall-breaking rants, Allison was great to watch. I will eat every sequin used in the production of I, Tonya if she doesn’t walk away with an Oscar for her role.


As I mentioned before, I’m unfamiliar with Tonya Harding, as a person, so couldn’t really tell you about her mannerisms, voice or – frankly – anything to do with her. I, therefore, can’t comment on Margot Robbie’s portrayal of her in too much detail. I will say that she was convincing as a loud, brash skater, and she made for an enjoyable watch, but I don’t think she’ll get the Oscar; Frances McDormand will get it if you’re asking. But Margot’s skating abilities are incredible, so if her stellar acting career flops, I’d happily welcome her to appear alongside Chico and Liz McClarnon on Dancing on Ice.

That’s not to say that with every spin and twirl, I applauded Margot for homing in on a skill (and for finally making me for Suicide Squad). There are several moments where it’s evident that the CGI team had had a rough night before, and decided not to work so hard on rendering Robbie’s face onto the ice-skating double.

For a movie with such a harrowing plot, I, Tonya is a thoroughly enjoyable watch, and it’s surprisingly funny. If only more athletes could conspire to harass each other; 2018 could be filled with darkly comedic biopics.

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