Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U. S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the sport is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
I had zero expectations going into this as not much is known about the movie except for the cast - and obviously the story as it was a huge news event in the 90s - but it turned out to be a wildly entertaining albeit flawed biopic. The film settled on a style and tone that falls somewhere around the Coen brothers territory, but also gave me Christopher Guest vibes with its talking head moments and Paul Thomas Anderson level soundtrack use. It had a lot of cinematic elements, but overall it's a super accessible crowd pleaser.
There are two big problems I have with this film, however. Its soundtrack, while filled to the brim with classic songs, often felt out of place or completely unnecessary at times. For an iconic 90s story, having only 70s songs was an interesting choice. A lot of the songs played at strange moments as well and sometimes they were just too on-the-nose. For example, Supertramp's "Goodbye Stranger" plays as Jeff and Tonya separate for the first time. The other problem with this film involves the inclusion of the fourth wall breaking moments. This happens maybe 10 times throughout the film, but it didn't add anything and in fact distracted me from the story when it happened.
That said, what's great about this movie is how *truly* funny it is. I was expecting a few laughs because of the ridiculousness of the story, but the comedy here was really smart. It plays like a crime-gone-wrong Fargo-esque tale in its latter half and it works this way really well. The performances are strong especially from the always good Allison Janney (who is a huge scene stealer) and Margot Robbie. I've never seen Robbie give a performance like this before and I consider this her first big, meaty roll that allows her to use all of the acting bones in her body. She's funny, charming, brash, and you can tell she really committed herself to this role. Very impressed.
LuckyChap Entertainment, Clubhouse Pictures by Craig Gillespie, Steven Rogers.
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson.
Genres: Biography, Comedy, Drama, Sport
Keywords: competition portland, oregon olympic games biography sports based on a true story rivalry figure skating domestic violence poverty overbearing mother violence ice skating taunting 1990s winter sport abusive mother emotional abuse mother daughter relationship
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