Mainstream Chick’s take: The biggest surprise about I, Tonya is that it’s both really bizarre and quite good, especially if you followed the wild saga involving disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding and her alleged involvement in – or knowledge of – the 1994 attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan just before the Winter Olympics. (Ah yes, I remember it well!). I, Tonya plays like a mockumentary, featuring interviews with Harding (Margot Robbie, nailing the hair, clothes and mannerisms), her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), her abusive alcoholic mother (Allison Janney, vying for a supporting actress nomination), a producer from Hard Copy (Bobby Cannavale), and others who factored into Tonya’s life both on and off the ice. I, Tonya aint no Ice Castles or Cutting Edge, that’s for sure. It’s a wacky biopic that manages to humanize Tonya Harding in a way that her celebrity boxing matches never could. I give it a 5.7 for both artistic and technical merit. (If you know your skating, you know that’s a decent score).
Arty Chick’s take: I, Tonya is a darkly, hilarious retelling of the Tonya Harding story that has you rooting for Tonya by the end. Bad mom of the year award goes to Allison Janney as Tonya’s mom LaVona Golden, a role that will probably earn her an Oscar nod, but Margot Robbie deserves a lot of praise, too, for her skating and for her tragi-comic portrayal of Tonya as a girl looking for validation in all the wrong places. The film paints Tonya as the victim first of a horrifying mom, then of husband Jeff Gillooly and his nut-job pal Shawn Eckhardt, and finally the press and courts. It’s clear that Tonya is a great skater, but she gets bad marks because of her white trash style. Then she falls for a guy who abuses her. And just when she’s about to be vindicated and ascend to the heights she knows she deserves, the whole Nancy Kerrigan knee thing happens and it points to her. But, the film tells us, she didn’t have anything to do with it. It’s funny and sad, and ultimately, who knows how true any of it is? But it is a damn fine movie. (I’d love to know how Nancy Kerrigan feels about it.)