During the 2017 Toronto Film Festival the Boston Globe‘s Janice Page wrote that I, Tonya is “hilarious, sharp, snarling, pitch perfect.” Trust me, it is only one of those things — i.e., snarling. I wrote that “unless you have a strange liking for the company of losers, abusers and total dipshits, you’ll definitely want to steer clear of this cesspool exercise. It lasts 119 minutes, and it feels, trust me, like 139 or 149.”
I also called it “an exaggerated, pugilistic black farce.”
“An Ugly Stick Movie That Will Leave Welts,” posted on 9.12.17: “Abuse begets more abuse, and abused victims sometimes (often?) seek out fresh replacement abusers. And so Tonya Harding‘s bitter, chain-smoking mom, Lavona, beat and belittled her daughter from age of 7 onward, and as teenaged and then 20-something Tonya ascended in the figure-skating realm she became a ferociously angry abuser herself with a huge chip on her shoulder…what else?
“Tonya married and then separated from an abusive, moustache-wearing asshole, Jeff Gillooly, who conspired to have Harding’s skating rival Nancy Kerrigan temporarily disabled with a police-baton blow to the knee, and with many presuming, fairly or unfairly, that Harding was aware of Gillooly’s plan and was more or less down with it.
“When I, Tonya ended I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘How long was that?’ ‘Two hours,’ he said. ‘Good God,’ I replied.
“Am I the only honest, straight-shooting journo-critic in Toronto right now? I, Tonya is cinematic abuse, pure and simple. It’s an ugly pill from hell — a violent, vulgar, relentlessly profane assembly of lower-middle-class white-trash types beating on each other and smoking and swearing and losing their tempers and causing cuts and swellings. It’s a tacky portrait of American self-loathers, brawlers, grotesques, hungry-for-famers, human garbage, etc.
“I, Tonya is an ugly, abusive, lower-class tale about a demimonde of ugly, abusive, lower-class people. A movie full of rage and resentment. A toilet-bowl downswirl of wretched, lower-middle-class misery.
“It’s not ‘funny’, not amusing, not likable and it makes us watch too many damn cigarettes being smoked by Allison Janey, who plays Livona in what may turn out to be a performance that will attract some Best Supporting Actress heat…who knows?
“How good is Margot Robbie as Tonya? Very. She’s thrown herself into the rage and doubled down like a champ, and has created a performance that at least aspires to the mixture of anger and furious commitment that propelled Robert De Niro‘s performance in Raging Bull, but without putting on 30 pounds. Robbie has definitely upped her stock as an actress who doesn’t back off from tough, scrappy material.”