I, Tonya is a story about abuse. Living abuse. Surviving abuse. And never getting over it. And as such, it is perfect. Everything else it wanted to be – an allegory on 24/7 fame, a deadpan pastiche, a wicked slice of YouTube chic – was not necessary, dragged the story down, could almost be called narrative abuse. Maybe this was on purpose. If so, then it’s a stroke obnoxious genius. But, I doubt it.
There’s great heart in Margot Robbie in taking on a national joke, a second-hand villain, and turning her into a quiet hero. In all her vulnerable garishness, her terrier posture, her awkward dignity. This I appreciated to the bone. There was no inherent violence in Tonya, it was her softness and inner grace that shaped her incredible talent. To get this point through all the inevitable slacker slapstick surrounding Tonya’s notoriety was a thespian fête extraordinaire. Intelligent performance. Good on Robbie. She’s a Hepburn in waiting. And Allison Janney, as mother from hell LaVona, is Hepburn.