I, Tonya movie review: a performer’s delight with an emphasis on the journey rather than the destination
Movies are, by their very nature, destined to be viewed by a specific audience. For example, you wouldn’t send a room full of kindergarteners to watch Dunkirk. (That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy it anyway, but probably not the intention of the filmmaker.) The thing about a movie like I, Tonya is that the majority of the audience for this movie already knows the key plot points. They essentially know how the story is going to end and while that’s not the only reason you go to see a movie, it is a big part of the experience and the audience anticipates the satisfaction of a well-crafted tale. So how do you do that when the audience knows what happens to the protagonist at the end of the film? The answer is this movie.
There are lots of films about how characters grow and/or change during the course of the story and this is where I, Tonya really succeeds. This movie delivers multiple perspectives in a way we rarely see and does it more successfully then I could have possibly imagined. As this is the case, the emphasis of the movie is on HOW the characters end up where they are at the end of the movie rather than their specific circumstances. I, Tonya is a question of how and why rather than where and when.
Should you take this journey? I would have to say yes. Even general audiences who may not have a strong desire for nuanced character development and even if they know the story points can still find something to enjoy in this movie. I wouldn’t refer to these roles as showy opportunities for actors such as what is afforded to James Franco in The Disaster Artist, but all the performers here not only have a great deal to do but do their jobs well. I, Tonya is the rare opportunity for viewers to make an impression on a character and continuingly reevaluate that impression throughout the course of the film.
2017 was a good year for movies and I certainly didn’t see everything, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie better than I, Tonya. It’s got a compelling story but the character arcs and performances really power this movie home. The other quality technical elements (photography, editing, etc) have to take a backseat while the most visible members of a larger team take center stage. This movie gets my highest recommendation.