Right from the opening credits I, Tonya makes clear its intentions as an "irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true" account of Tonya Harding's story. In fact, the truth may never be known, not by us at least.
But in Harding's own words, "There's no such thing as truth. I mean, it's bullsh*t. Everyone has their own truth and life just does whatever the f*ck it wants." A perfect summation of this film's sassy tone.
Most will already know the events surrounding the infamous scandal of Olympic ice-skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. But less is known about the events leading up to the incident.
Physically abused from a young age by her mother and later in life by her husband, Harding's rough start moulded her into a belligerent, naive, self-confessed redneck that didn't give an inch. Her side of the story is presented through documentary-style interviews with the key players, including Harding (Margot Robbie), her husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and Harding's mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) — all who clarify events leading up to the "planned" kneecapping of rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. The incident made headlines around the world and defined the careers of the two Olympic ice-skaters.
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Director Craig Gillespie's (Lars and the Real Girl) visually charged approach is perfectly partnered with Steven Rogers' punch-and-duck screenplay, resulting in a film that ebbs and flows effortlessly throughout. And although at times it relies too heavily on its emotive soundtrack, it packs enough kinetic wallop and alluring fourth-wall breaking (which at times includes us, the media-frenzied public, complicit in her abuse), to keep you engaged.
It's difficult to know how the real events behind closed doors actually played out, but one thing's for sure; I, Tonya presents Harding's "truth" as a feisty tale of dark humour and tragedy that proves to be an absorbing romp from start to finish.
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Director: Craig Gillespie
Running time: 119 minutes
Rating: R16 (Domestic violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & offensive language)
Verdict: Skates around the facts but an absorbing romp.