I, Tonya (2017) Review – A Factual Comedy Of Inaccurate Facts


I, Tonya is a movie based on the life of the world famous (read: infamous) American skater Tonya Harding. Her struggle to fame and her quick downfall is the subject of this dark comedy. The movie stars Margot Robbie as Tonya and Allison Janney as LoVona Golden (Tonya’s mother). Sebastian Stan stars as Jeff Gillooly, Tonya’s husband. I, Tonya


I, Tonya
Allison Janney as LaVona Harding

Now, I know the movie does not exactly mirror what happened in real life so my review will be strictly based on the movie. LaVona is a mother who doesn’t really care much about her daughter. She forces little Tonya to join ice skating and makes her quit school when Tonya starts excelling in the sport.

Tonya, however, has a hard time with all the things going on in her life. Her parents’ divorce and her father’s departure affects her. She is often ridiculed for her appearance, muscular build, her homemade costumes and her family. Her mother often abuses her, both verbally and physically. Tonya gradually starts to think that this is normal, maybe she deserves to be beaten. She thinks it is a way of life. The state of mind remains when she marries Jake Gillooly who is 18 and three years her senior. She gets tired of his abuse but puts up with it anyway. What happens next is now history. The sheer stupidity of her delusional bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt makes Tonya lose the career she loved with all her heart. It was her nirvana but she loses it all.

I, Tonya
From left: Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt and Sebastian Stan as Jake Gilooly

I loved the mockumentary style of the movie with Margot Robbie occasionally breaking the fourth wall.

For me, Alison Janney takes away the cake in this one. She is destined to play the bad mother. Most of us have some problems with our mothers, don’t we?

Allison Janney makes this bitter-sweet relationship much relatable, even if it were a bit exaggerated. She is a mother without a heart, showing no signs of humanity, whatsoever. However, she knows Tonya skates better when enraged so she makes her furious on purpose, before any event. She warns Tonya about Jake, telling her it’s a mistake. Tonya sees Jake as an escape from her wretched life.

I, Tonya
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

What I take away from I, Tonya is that Tonya deserved better. Maybe not as an athlete, but definitely as a woman.

She was nothing but a victim of the unfortunate circumstances. Margot’s Tonya tries hard to break away from her web of misfortunes but gets trapped every time. Margot Robbie manages to evoke my sympathy for her misunderstood character.

There are times when you can’t help but laugh and yet feel the discomfort in your heart. There is this one scene where Tonya is distraught just before her match and the whole world hates her with a vengeance and she just sits in her green room doing her makeup. She breaks down and composes herself, trying very hard to smile. Margot manages to both disturb and move me in this scene. I have been a fan of Margot, since Pan Am and somehow wanted more from her after finishing the movie.

I, Tonya
A distraught Tonya is about to lose everything

Sebastian Stan does a compelling job. Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt as the obese, gross and utterly cringy daft is wonderful. I, Tonya celebrates the life of Tonya Harding who was once loved and hated by America. Her bad luck is the witness that nothing lasts forever and her journey is quite the unexpected fun ride.
The director does a good job and the telling of the story is crisp and fast. I don’t remember getting bored for a minute and most of the credit for it goes to Allison Janney. It’s a must watch if you are ready to overlook the reality for a little while.


(YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Shape Of Water (2017) Review — Poetry On Celluloid)

Deblina is a 23 yo introvert who is often a victim of her own jokes and her OCD. She loves books, Marvel, Netflix and Star Wars. She writes about nerd stuff. Jessica Jones and Tyrion Lannister are her spirit animals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.