Awards frontrunner film depicting the true story of U.S. skater Tonya Harding and the events that shocked the world of sports in 1994.
Written by Steven Rogers (“Love the Coopers”), the film “I, Tonya” retraces the moments that led to one of the most scandalous events in sports: the knee clubbing of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, which was orchestrated by the ex-husband of fellow competitor Tonya Harding after a practice session at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. If you are not a figure skating fan, this biopic might not seem of any interest to you. But the talent of director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) is evident and you will be captivated by this sordid story. At no point will you be bored, even though you know the plot, as you dive into the unpleasant world of domestic violence, guns, alcohol and somewhat low-life people.
Actress Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”), who also co-produced the movie, contributes such a performance as Tonya Harding that will surely lead her down the path to awards. When a scene starts with Harding’s mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) you are always in suspense, not knowing what is going to come on the screen. Let us not forget the (stupid) team formed by Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan, and friend-with-the-wrong-idea Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser).
We very much liked the filming, which changes pace over the course of two hours. (Gillespie also has experience in directing commercials, so he knows how and when to pick up speed.) Captured from angles you haven’t seen before, the skating scenes will leave you wondering how the team accomplished them. Gillespie told us after our screening that he was lucky to have found a camera man that used to be a hockey player, and therefore very at ease on the ice. As the editing is part of the success of a film, kudos to film editor Tatiana S. Riegel, who admitted to us that she had very good footage with which to work.
And after spending a few minutes with Robbie, we discovered that in real life she is so sweet and charming --- the opposite of her character, proving once again that she is a true actress.