Film Review: Actors excel in I, Tonya

Allison Janney with her Actress in a supporting role Oscar for I, Tonya in the press room at the 90t

Allison Janney with her Actress in a supporting role Oscar for I, Tonya in the press room at the 90th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA.�Picture: IAN WEST/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

This Oscar nominated picture tells the story of controversial American figure skater Tonya Harding, who was accused of conspiring to attack one of her rivals during the build-up to the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Australian actress Margot Robbie takes on the lead role in a film which focuses on Harding’s tough upbringing and the events which lead up to the infamous incident.

Directed by Australian Craig Gillespie, the film tells its story from a variety of contrasting and sometimes unreliable viewpoints, as each of the main players are interviewed about their differing version of events.

As original as it is, this only really succeeds in giving the film a slightly confused and disjointed narrative.

The acting performances, however, are outstanding.

Robbie enhances her reputation further with a beguiling performance as the talented ice skater, sneered at by the establishment for her trailer trash roots, while Sebastian Stan shows there is more to his repertoire than the stoic superhero he plays in the Marvel series, with an engaging portrayal of Tonya’s sleazy husband Jeff Gillooly.

But it is Allison Janney who has rightfully garnered the most praise for her show-stealing turn as Tonya’s stoney faced mother.

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A woman without a maternal bone in her body and with the sharpest of tongues, the Boston-born actress is virtually unrecognisable in a near faultless performance and was awarded a best supporting actress Oscar for her efforts at this year’s Academy Awards.

I, Tonya is darkly funny in places but it would be stretching things to call it a comedy.

As the talented young Harding’s fledgling career is destroyed, the film becomes more of a tragedy than anything else.

Scenes of domestic violence sit awkwardly with the more comedic elements, giving the film a rather uneven tone and the film’s unlikeable characters make it very difficult to connect with any of them.

As a film, I, Tonya doesn’t quite live up to the standards of the excellent acting performances but is undeniably watchable and sheds new light on an infamous and sometimes misunderstood moment in sporting history.

I, Tonya (15) will be screened at the Stowmarket Regal from Friday, March 23.

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