‘I, Tonya’ Review Roundup: Critics Love Tonya Harding ‘Biopic’ That Leaves The Truth Up To The Viewer
I, Tonya tells the true story of Tonya Harding, the disgraced figure skater. Though she was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her record was tarnished after she plotted for her ex-husband to attack her rival Nancy Kerrigan before the Olympic qualifiers. Margot Robbie plays Harding in a piercing portrayal. Sebastian Stan plays ex Jeff Gillooly, while Allison Janney gives an epic performance as Harding’s mother LaVona Golden.
Critics are loving this film, in part because of directer Craig Gillespie‘s irreverent storytelling, part for the original screenplay by Steven Rogers, and mostly for the fantastic acting all around. I, Tonya has earned an impressive 89% on Rottentomatoes. The film opens in theaters everywhere on Dec. 8.
I, TONYA REVIEW ROUNDUP
“It’s an apt thesis for a film that dives into the swirling narratives surrounding the scandal-prone figure skater, and dredges up something that ultimately, feels real. Shockingly, it also feels redemptive… I, Tonya walks an impossibly tight rope, flip-flopping from dark to funny to darkly funny. The outlandish and visceral film has a shaggy dog appeal, and it never stops talking. At the heart is a fully-committed Robbie, who embodies Tonya’s stubborn fire and gives her the dignity she was never afforded. By the time the real footage of the triple Axel rolls, you’ll be on your feet.”
–Katie Walsh, Hamilton Spectator
“You won’t find sentiment to dull the edge off the abuse and exploitation that marked the skater’s formative years. The movie cuts deeper, holding a mirror up to the class-conscious America most of us tend to ignore or dismiss – and makes us see ourselves reflected in it, too. I, Tonya is funny as hell, but the pain is just as real. You’ll laugh till it hurts.”
–Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Now, Gillespie’s film isn’t all #TeamTonya or #TeamTruth — will we ever know the full, real story? Gillespie doesn’t pretend to be definitive. Instead, he spins the tragedy of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan into a searing indictment of America’s obsession with “America” and the ways that public opinion can be irreparably warped by sensationalist news media. Those expecting camp or catfights won’t find them in Gillespie’s movie, which instead offers thoughtful and somewhat objective critiques, plus much seriously dark humor that’ll elicit a lot of uncomfortable gasps of laughter — and invites you to ponder difficult truths.”
–April Wolfe, The Village Voice
“In place of the real thing, I, Tonya injects style. Riffing on the narration-plus-archival-footage technique in [ESPN’s 2014 30 for 30 special about Harding] The Price of Gold, director Craig Gillespie weaves talking-head voiceovers into flashback scenes. A character will occasionally turn to the camera during a contested event and say, ‘This didn’t happen.’ …Harding’s story is perfect for a movie because it is full of plot twists, and consists of three major acts—childhood, extraordinary success, despair—that are framed through the lens of reminiscence. It is also built around a toothsome arc of the De Casibus Virorum Illustrium kind: The inevitable turn of fortune’s wheel must crush Tonya Harding, as it crushed King Arthur and Alexander the Great.”
–Josephine Livingstone, New Republic
“You may not buy into that villain-as-victim scenario, which blames everyone but Harding for what happened. (Ever laugh at a Tonya Harding joke? You’re guilty, too, the movie says.) But even if it doesn’t make its heroine into the perfect role model the sport demanded, I, Tonya does make her into a living, breathing person. It proves there’s a real human being behind every headline. And that may be worth its own medal.”
–Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News