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With: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale
Written by: Steven Rogers
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, violence, and some sexual content/nudity
Running Time: 119
Date: 12/08/2017
IMDB

I, Tonya (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Harding Knocks

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Another awards-season biopic, Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya is a huge surprise for the way it takes a trashy tabloid story and makes it not only seem relevant, but unfailingly dynamic. Though Gillespie has never shown any personality before, and there's no indication that the man who made Fright Night, Million Dollar Arm, and The Finest Hours could have made this, he brings a very noticeable Martin Scorsese-like energy to the story. But unlike American Hustle, which felt like a slavish copy of Scorsese, I, Tonya feels inspired, enthusiastic. Margot Robbie gives an Oscar-ready performance — toning down her own extraordinary beauty — as Tonya Harding, a gifted skater from scuzzy origins and saddled with a nasty, pushy mom (a great Allison Janney). The movie follows her inevitable story as she nears the Olympics but dissipates into scandal as her husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and some doofus cohorts attempt to sabotage the career of her friend and rival Nancy Kerrigan. Gillespie fills out the story with on-camera interviews, taken 1980s style in 1.33:1 video format, and the characters frequently break the fourth wall and comment as the action is going on. (At one point, Janney jumps in, worrying that her storyline is going nowhere.) As a story, it's a frenzy, bizarre even by today's standards, and when Gillespie includes clips of the real-life participants, it's almost a shock that it wasn't fictional.

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