I, Tonya follows the story of champion figure skater Tonya Harding from the age of 3 right up to her 40’s when she gave an interview about her career. It battles with domestic violence in the worst kind and family dramas. And it wasn’t for me.
I find it a lot easier to write about films I didn’t enjoy, compared to films I love. There’s only so many times I can say “it was amazing” before it starts loosing it’s meaning.
As always, at this time of year, like a lot of people I try and see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible before the big day (for me, second to Christmas Day, the biggest day of the year). I now have exactly 1 week until the Golden Statue will be shining again and everyone (inevitably dressed in black #timesup) will be walking the red carpet in sunny Hollywood. I’m down to just 1 ‘best picture’ nominee left to watch, Lady Bird, which I am going to see today and yesterday I had the…pleasure? of watching I, Tonya.
I’m disappointed to say, I didn’t like it. I know, I know, you should never start a review off by saying you did, or didn’t, like something but that’s the honest truth. I wouldn’t say I was particularly excited about it in the first place but I was looking forward to seeing something new and different but was disappointed with what I saw.
I had the impression from the trailer that it was going to be a heavily performance based film and I thought the entire thing was held together with Alison Janney and Sebastian Stan, Janney was raw and honest and Stan was gritty and nasty to watch which both worked really well for me. Margot Robbie, who is nominated for the best actress award at the Oscars, was good but not like blow me away amazing. I think she has serious potential and has, obviously, been in a lot of big films but I just haven’t seen her in anything yet that made me think “yes, she’s one of the greats”. I look forward to the day I can say I was wrong.
The script was a big downfall for me, I couldn’t bare the way they kept breaking the fourth wall outside of the interview scenes, it didn’t fit in at all and I didn’t see the relevance of it. Not only was it a bit weird to watch but everything they said during those moments was pointless, not funny, not relevant and just out of place. It was like it was trying too hard to be something it’s not and didn’t need to be.
I also didn’t quite understand why it was trying to be a comedy, there were people around me laughing at things that in my head I was thinking “what on earth is funny about a mother throwing a knife into her daughters arm” – do people just laugh when they’re uncomfortable or was that the desired reaction?
There was a huge spotlight on the domestic abuse throughout Tonya’s life, which I understand was a big part of her growing up and her marriage but it felt a bit like it was constantly being repeated for audience reaction instead of actually focusing on the story. I got a bit lost in the middle when the “incident” happened and I didn’t even know who the person they were sabotaging was…or was that just me? Maybe I drifted off for a bit.
I was kind of hoping for something huge to happen at the end, which I know couldn’t have been made up because it was biographical but it felt very anti-climactic to me, like I was literally just waiting for it to end and for the “this is what happened to Tonya after the film” text came up.
I always take it as a sign that I’m not enjoying a film when I have to look at my watch during to find out how long I’ve got left and when I did that during I, Tonya I was disappointed to see I’d only watch an hour so far.
Clearly, this wasn’t a film for me and won’t be getting my vote come Sunday, even though I know Alison Janney is very likely to win. I’d much rather see Octavia Spencer pick up the Supporting Actress award.
But hey, I don’t decide the winners, yet.