I saw I, Tonya with Lainey the week before Christmas. It is not hyperbole to say I have thought about it in some way every day since then. This has to have been Margot Robbie’s intent. She wasn’t just the star, she was a producer. She knew this was a story she would be able to tell with enough angles that you’d turn it over and over again… which is why she fought so hard to produce it. She’s not the only producer, but she’s the only producer who’s a star. She’s all over this move – and she’s started a conversation in a way that none of the other films have.
She’s twenty-seven years OLD. Was a rookie producer. This is what she made.
I know it’s not cute to wring your hands over how young the younguns are. But she seems much older, right? More poised and sure of herself? Except that I’m going to venture Margot Robbie and her youth are the reason the movie is so compelling.
People are talking about two things with this movie, both of which are valid. Whether the tone of the film is making light of the violence in the story is a big one, of the attack suffered by Nancy Kerrigan or of the abuse Tonya suffered at the hands of Lavona and Jeff Gillooly. The other is whether it’s right that Tonya’s being ‘celebrated’ given that, in the most generous interpretation, she knew something she didn’t disclose at some point.
But look, this is what makes the movie so compelling. Clearly Margot Robbie – the producer, or the actor, or both – sees Tonya Harding as a young woman who did some things, not a villain who’s a cautionary tale. Maybe even acknowledges that she knows how Tonya could have felt. How a person could get herself into that situation. Maybe sees her as a peer! Any way you look at it, it’s clear she sees Tonya as a person whose story is worthy of being told, despite her mistakes. Which is, somehow, revolutionary. We don’t have to list for you all the men who have gotten fourth and sixth and seventh chances, right? And nobody’s saying she’s having a ‘comeback’. Just that everyone has a story.
Included here is Sebastian Stan, who played Jeff Gillooly (I will never tire of saying that name). He’s not getting much play even though he fundamentally does a good job in the movie… when he’s with Tonya. The movie basically paints him as obsessed with her, and maybe that’s why everything loses momentum when she’s not onscreen; the bumbling buddies thing that he has going with the ‘criminal mastermind’ who thought it all up is fun for a few minutes but then you start missing Tonya.
Yes. You miss Tonya Harding. Margot Robbie made that happen.
P.S. Apparently she was struggling through the night with the flu. On the one hand I feel awful for her. On the other, I’m curious about whether anyone was brave enough to give her the side-eye. Imagine sitting next to your seatmate and knowing for four hours that they were sick and you have to look happy and engaged about it?