Going in with very minimal knowledge of the life and career of Tonya Harding, I honestly had no idea what to expect walking into this film. I walked away feeling enlightened, empowered, emotional, and entertained.
The film creates one of the thinnest lines between drama and comedy that I think I have ever seen and spends the entire runtime teetering from one side to the other. The almost mockumentary style interviews and well-timed fourth wall breaks provide an interesting juxtaposition to the consistent abuse the figure skater endures from her mother and husband.
No matter your opinion of Tonya, it is impossible in these moments especially not to sympathize with her; a woman that spent her whole life taking beatings from the people who were supposed to love her coming so close to her dream and then having it ripped away. Whether or not you believe she deserved it is another story but for me, the performances from Margot Robbie and Allison Janey (who recently won a Golden Globe for her role as Lavona Harding) made it impossible not to feel something. It is evident that the cast put everything they had into understanding and becoming these characters.
Aside from this, the film was shot gorgeously. From long fluid tracking shots to an ice skating cameraman, the cinematography throughout was masterful and made it easy to fully immerse yourself in the film.
There is an argument to be made about whether or not this dramatic story needed the comedic elements. Personally, the aforementioned thin line between these two elements is what made this film so original. A cookie-cutter biopic of Tonya Harding probably wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground, but I, Tonya is far from that, which is the reason it will continue to be recognized throughout award season.