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I, Tonya

Tuesday Mar 13, 2018
I, Tonya

Writer Steven Rogers has conjured up storytelling gold and crafted a jewel. From interviews he did with former Olympic skater Tonya Harding and her husband Jeff Gillooly -- in which they gave vastly different accounts of their life together, her career, and "the incident," which is to say, the knee-bludgeoning of Harding's rival, Nancy Kerrigan -- Rogers created a screenplay that's equal parts savage and hilarious.

Director Craig Gillespie managed to shoot the film in 30 days -- an amazing feat, considering the sheer athletic grace he captures, with, as we learn in the special features, the help of some special visual effects. Gillespie also managed to get an array of indelibly impressive performances from his cast: Margot Robbie ("Suicide Squad") plays Harding; Sebastian Stan ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier") plays Gillooly; the great Allison Janney plays Tonya's withholding stage mother from hell, LaVona.

Just as well turned (and well tuned) are Paul Walter Hauser, Gillooly's man-child best friend who deludes himself into thinking he's a security expert with international reach; Julianne Nicholson, as Diane, Tonya's long-suffering coach; and Bobby Cannavale, who pops up here and there as tabloid reporter Martin Maddox, and whose screen time amounts to little more than a cameo -- but who makes his limited presence an absolute delight.

This film packs all the pathos, comedy, and emotional (and physical) violence of a season pf the terrific FX series "Fargo" into a couple of hours.

Aside from a multi-part featurette that covers the visual effects, the cast, the true story the film is based upon, and an explanation (and cinematic illustration of) Tonya's signature move, the triple axel, the Blu-ray edition's extras are minimal. There are deleted scenes; there's an audio commentary with Gillespie.

But what more could you want? This film has already gathered multiple awards and nominations; like its star, it's a champion, and while it's forceful and bold, it's also likable in a way that Hardin, evidently, was not (though Robbie, miraculously, makes her someone to care about). "I, Tonya" is one of those rare films that really should take home a shelf load of Oscars; more to the point, it's a Blu-ray that deserves a space on your shelf at home.

"I, Tonya"


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