After watching this movie, I can safely say I still don’t know what happened. And that’s kind of the point.
I was pretty young when the Tonya Harding Incident happened so I only heard about it after the fact. In this regard, I can say that I, Tonya was made with its audience in mind. Right off the bat, the characters (often talking directly to the camera in a mockumentary style) all tell the audience how they know your expectations and why you came to watch this movie. Even before the movie starts, they tell you that this movie is based on absolutely contradictory statements made during interviews from Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and her abusive mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney).
With this in mind, the story tries its best to tell events of Tonya Harding’s life leading up to “The Incident.” The abuses she suffered at her mother and then at her husband. Even then, though, we can’t really trust anything anyone says because we know they could easily be lying about events or could simply be misremembering events. The movie knows that a lot of this doesn’t make sense and probably isn’t true.
What absolutely makes this film worth watching is the actors involved. This is easily Margot Robbie’s best performance so far. Every time she was on screen, I absolutely believed she was Tonya Harding. Sebastian Stan gives a good performance as a shy and insecure man. Allison Janney at first seems to play the same woman she plays in Mom but she slowly becomes much worse, abusing Tonya since childhood and informing much of Tonya’s personality.
Even though, much of the movie could be false, I still sympathized with the main character, mostly due to Margot Robbie’s performance. She really does pull the movie together and is the whole reason I continued watching the film even though I knew it could be lying to me. Watching her both on and off the ice was a complete joy, no doubt aided by Craig Gillespie’s directing.
This movie wasn’t really about telling the truth. In a cynical way, we the audience, don’t really care about the truth and the movie comments on that. We came in with our own expectations and our own truths. There are so many contradictory reports about the Tonya Harding Incident that I doubt we will ever truly know what really happened. Having said that, even though this movie doesn’t tell the truth, I think it does say some things that are truthful.