“I, Tonya” Is Knee Cappingly Good

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“I, Tonya” is a daffy biopic, told not in a lightly frosted way, but as a dark comedy of errors.

UnknowntAs the personal pronoun of the title implies, this is Tonya Harding’s story told from the perspective of an unreliable witness to her own life.

Believe her at your peril but its hard not to err on her side of a story younger people don’t know but their elders remember.

“I, Tonya” will amuse both. Harding was a champion Olympic ice skater implicated in the 1994 knee capping of competitor Nancy Kerrigan an event that remains in the public imagination years later.

Margot Robbie portrays Harding as a trailer park of Hard Knox scrapper struggling to fit into a genteel and elitist sport.

She was raised by a no more wire hangers style abusive stage mother, played by Allison Janney in a take no prisoners performance, and married a volatile and abusive human mustache named Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan. Gillooly and his buffoonish henchman, who lives in his mother’s basement, put the knee capping in motion.

Director Craig Gillespie tells the story in flashback using first person narration of the principals and a crackling gang that couldn’t shoot straight energy.

What she knew and if she knew remain unclear, but Robbie’s chain smoking survivor sits at kitchen table, with a bad perm and in a denim jacket, denying all, blaming others.

“Who would do something like that,” she asks with the insincerity of someone who knows where the bodies are buried.

They say comedy is tragedy plus time. The sharp-tongued and sad “I, Tonya” is both.

Opening Friday Jan. 5 at the Downer Theatre. 

 

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