Friday, 16 February 2018

I, Tonya (2017)

I am quite an inactive person. Well, right now I am training to run for a marathon (click and show support here, feel free to share and/or donate), but I am generally not a sporty type. Never have been. I try to do enough to stop my body from seizing up, that's all. I don't even watch any sporting events, certainly not with advance planning. But I do admire those who are physically capable of great sporting feats. And I do recognise that those performing in competitions, and those trying to become good enough to represent their country at the Olympic level, are individuals who have sacrificed a lot in order to get the smallest chance at achieving greatness.

And I think that's really worth bearing in mind when you think of the story of Nancy Kerrigan. This film may be about Tonya Harding but it's Kerrigan who was the victim, an ice skater who could have been irreparably harmed in a vicious attack that was for no other reasons than to let someone else (Harding) slip into their place. If you don't know the full story then I recommend you look into it. I vaguely remember being gobsmacked as I saw the trial unfold.

This film has been made because of that shocking event, and that's really what it's all about. But on the lead up to that event we get to see what a horrible life has been led by Harding (played by Margot Robbie), suffering a lot of grief at the hands of her nasty mother (Allison Janney) before rushing into a turbulent relationship, to put it mildly, with her first husband (Sebastian Stan). Her constant pleasure is ice skating, something she was very talented at, and something that led to her fame and infamy.

Written by Steven Rogers, who has previously given audiences a bundle of tear-jerking dramas, and one Christmas movie, this is a zippy, entertaining biopic that seems to take Harding's own perspective of events over any conflicting views. That's not a terrible thing, especially when the film states at the very start that a lot of the events are being depicted as they were described in different interviews, but it does lead to a number of moments that have had left some viewers feeling rather unhappy with how things are depicted.

Director Craig Gillespie does good work, despite the obvious soundtrack choices and the execution of certain scenes feeling very much like moments lifted from better films in this mould. I'm not going to namecheck the directors that Gillespie seems to be emulating because a) so many other people have already done that, and b) it's obvious to most film fans as soon as things start to play out.

But it's the cast really making this worth your time. Robbie is superb in the lead role, perfectly portraying both rebel and victim. Stan and Janney both do well as the main people in her life who excel at, well, treating her like shit, and Paul Walter Hauser is amusing as someone creating a fantasy life in his mind that eventually turns into something life-altering for everyone involved in The Incident.

Despite being too flattering to Tonya Harding (well, the title is a clue to where it will stand), and despite slipping here and there, this still makes for a decent show. Even if, unlike the main character, it never comes close to landing its own triple axel.


Fans of the film may enjoy this book.
Over in the USofA you can order the disc here.

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