2017 Toronto International Film Festival: ‘I, Tonya’ Review Round-Up

Check out various snippets below from a variety of reviews of I, Tonya after it’s debut at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Hollywood Repoter: Despite its title, the pic (written by Steven Rogers) is deliberate in spreading the narrative focus around. Based, per the opening title cards, on frank interviews with the participants that are re-created here, the film front-and-centers not just Robbie’s Tonya but her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan, endearingly stupid and embarrassed of his infamy), mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), skating coach Dian Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) and deluded “bodyguard” Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser). All are sadder now; wisdom is less evenly distributed. But each brings something to the table — even the too-proper Rawlinson, who when training young Tonya always encouraged her to wear nicer clothes and clean up her manners: A movie this full of colorful wingnuts needs a voice from Squaresville. […]

Variety: Part of the film’s drama — almost its morality — is that Tonya, though a highly successful skater who starts to compete in national championships, gets lower scores than she deserves, and the judges, at several points, come out and admit that it’s about factors besides skating — what they call “presentation.” But that’s just code for conventionality, for wanting to sell a homogenized image of America on the Olympics level. It has nothing to do with what any of this is supposed to be about — skating — and that lends Tonya a streak of rebel realness.

That’s the good side of her contempt for respectability. The bad side is that she falls for Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), a loser in a sardine mustache who’s nice enough to Tonya — when he isn’t punching her in the face. Their relationship isn’t portrayed as one of those hellacious ones in which the abuser keeps the abused under his thumb by threatening her. Tonya, no matter how much she gets slapped around, simply won’t cut him loose; she marries him, and leaves him, and keeps coming back to him. The movie is sharp enough to suggest that she feels the echo of her mother’s hatred in every slap, and she can’t give that up. She’s addicted to what she thinks she deserves. […]

The Wrap: As a whole the film delights in and demands audience participation by breaking the fourth wall often. Robbie brings a brand of vinegar we haven’t seen in her previous work, and it illuminates a long-forgotten trainwreck.

A postscript on screen says that Tonya now builds and restores decks in Michigan. We’ll take their word that it‘s the f—— truth. […]

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