Film Review Friday: “I, Tonya”

An Unlikely Redemption

“I, Tonya” (2017) Review by John Heffernan

The film “I, Tonya” (2017) is a retelling of the life and infamy of the eponymous Tonya Harding. “I, Tonya” has received numerous acknowledgements from different academies of film criticism, including the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. 2017 seems to have been the year of artistic adaptation on, well, “flawed” characters to say the least. Even more so, this film aspires to redeem a character whose notoriety precedes her. Towards the end of the film, I felt sympathy for Tonya, played by Margot Robbie. What this film succeeds in character development it follows it up with excellent cinematography.

This film was perfectly cast, which is something that is an extremely difficult job to accomplish. While not the main character, Allison Janney’s LaVona Golden steals the show in my opinion. The anger and resentment that she can channel in her biting remarks is outstanding. Every swear that she utters cuts right through the audience’s ears and strikes their heart with the same pain Tonya herself feels. One scene that is a standout is one between LaVona and Tonya in their kitchen, one which is featured in the trailer, though I will not mention specifics to keep it spoiler-free. However, for those who have seen it will understand the appreciation I have for that scene. It amps up so quickly to the jaw-dropping moment that sends Tonya out of the scene. Though explosive in many senses, Janney’s LaVona is very nuanced. While mostly a negative force, her final scene is honestly a beautiful moment, which also has a bitter twist that is hard to watch (for all the right reasons).

While Janney is such a strong force in this film, it would be terrible of me not to highlight the excellence of Margot Robbie. I will be honest for a moment: Coming into this movie I was concerned about Margot Robbie’s performance.

While she has proven herself to be a strong presence in films like Suicide Squad (2016), in my opinion she had not yet shown the strength to carry a film like this. I was completely proven wrong.

She covered an incredibly large range of emotions, from the bliss of accomplishing one of the most difficult figure skating moves to the crushing defeat and punishment of a person degraded by media consumerism; it is truly impressive. I also must give credit to the younger actress who played Harding as her parents separate. Her reaction to her father leaving was truly heartbreaking. The shot is set up with Tonya’s mother standing in the doorway as Tonya cries to her father not to leave, begging to go with him and even standing in front of his car trying to stop him. Other highlights of this film include its score and the great (if surprising) performance of Sebastian Stan’s Jeff, Tonya’s abusive (ex)husband. 

Overall, the film is an excellent lens into the art of the villain. In a line later in the film, Tonya examines the relationship between Nancy Kerrigan and her as “hero and villain.” Ultimately, “I, Tonya” puts an audience’s preconceived notions to the test by provided a broader spectrum of heroism and villainy when put in the context of Ms. Harding’s life.



Ackerley, T. (Producer), Blavantnik, L. (Executive Producer), Deivne, Z. (Executive Producer), Giladi, A. (Executive Producer), Holden, V. (Executive Producer), Korenberg, R. (Executive Producer), Morgen, S. A. (Co-Producer), Robbie M. (Producer), Rogers, S. (Producer), Sledd, M. (Co-Producer), Unkeless, B. (Producer), & Gillespie, C. (Director). (2017). I, Tonya [Motion Picture]. United States: Clubhouse Pictures.

One Response

  1. Bachelor of Computer Engineering Telkom University at |

    thanks for great review


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