AndersonVision Best Films of 2017: #7 – I, TONYA (NEON)
I, TONYA REVIEWED
“I, Tonya” has been earning a ton of scorn for no reason. Is it just a biopic? Well, kinda. The film evokes a mix of dirty nostalgia with a look at a woman who was never given a chance to prosper. Conducting one of my many informal surveys, I found that most people don’t really remember what happened. Most thought that Tonya Harding performed the actual attack, while others believed she ordered it. While it’s been 20 years, so many people remain steadfast in their beliefs. Given the number of sports controversies in the last two decades, why does it remain so easy to keep throwing unwarranted garbage on Harding?
Margot Robbie kills it in the lead role. She manages to give Tonya Harding a level of depth that took years to mine. It would be too easy to portray as crazed white trash trying to rise above her station life. What Robbie does with the help of Allison Janney is showcases a young woman who never had a shot. Well, never had a shot unless she bought into the mania of the sport. From a young age, she’s trained like a service animal to perform any number of tricks to keep her mother happy.
When she can’t do enough for herself or mother, she attaches herself to anyone nearby. Whether that’s a new coach or an older husband, Tonya Harding reaches out for any hint of success with both hands. This isn’t a film about a bad person, because Tonya Harding was never a bad person. She was a poor woman with one gift that everyone around her used to climb further up the ladder. Now, she’s a part-time boxer/full-time landscapist that just wants to find her place.
Giving her that Henry Hill flourish kinda works in the film’s favor. If you showed her, as the poor kid used and abused for 20-30 years, then it wouldn’t be fun to watch.
- 1 hr and 59 minutes