Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I, TONYA Rules!!!

You're representing our country, for fuck's sake. They need to see a wholesome American family.  -Skating judge
But I don't have a wholesome American family. -Tonya Harding

I, Tonya is one of the best movies of this, or any other year! I suppose for brevity's sake, one could call it a "black comedy," but it succeeds on so many levels (eg- docudrama, social satire and commentary, etc)- which is exactly what a really good black comedy can do, should do... and this most certainly does!

Several reviews have criticized it for not knowing what it wants to be or trying to do too much- and not anything, very well.  That would pretty much be my wrap of The Shape of Water, a sentimental ball of confusion that indecisively meanders between hardcore Disney and attempted adult situation fantasy. Any retelling of a tale so inherently insane with characters so fundamentally flawed can easily divert into parody or lecture, but Craig Gillespie hits the right tone for this multidimensional dive into American class structure, aspirations and insanity. And Margot Robbie, who looks a helluva lot more like Nancy Kerrigan than Tonya Harding, pulls off an amazing performance as the self professed red neck who would not be denied; but then, that's the other thing about this flick- each and every actor does such a bang up job, you actually anticipate and look forward to their reactions and appearances! Tonya's mother literally steals the first third of the movie with a tour de force portrayal between her nips and drags of booze and cigs.

The intrigue, betrayals, pathos and bathos galore is all quite Shakespearean to say the least. And Gillespie not only manages to make a most compelling commentary on the American class system, he also manages what I thought previously impossible- portray Tonya Harding as a genuinely sympathetic character! This is someone who was abused by her mother, brother, husband, and skating judges alike- and as she rightly points out, by a society (ie- us) that was more than eager to demonize her. And (ironically enough) you get to both marvel and laugh throughout the entire spectacle...

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