“I, Tonya” and its imperfect narrator

The documentary style filmmaking of “I, Tonya” recreates interviews with Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) while chronicling the skater’s life leading up to the infamous attack on Nancy Kerrigan.  Though many films utilize a “based on a true story” title card to capitalize on the sensationalism of what follows, “I, Tonya” does the opposite.  The opening of the movie warns that the source material interviews were completely contradictory.  In fact, further research into the film shows the pair disagreed on absolutely everything, including the basic details of their first date.  This note of caution extends further than the biased narrators, a point Tonya herself underscores by saying everyone has their own truth and this is merely hers.

Robbie met the film’s subject only once prior to shooting as she was reluctant to turn the character into a carbon copy of the skater.  That said, Robbie does so well in the role that it often feels like watching archival footage.

While many are undoubtedly curious about the Nancy Kerrigan beating, a fact Tonya acknowledges on screen, the actual event goes by quickly.  This movie is Tonya’s moment, not Nancy’s.  And, whereas that event may seem like the pinnacle of drama, the high-stakes of the movie actually come from the abuse she’s subject to by her mom and husband.  In fact, the repeated beatings are so disturbing that this feels like a cautionary tale about domestic violence much of the time.

To find out more about what makes Tonya an imperfect narrator, as well as behind-the-scenes details about incorporating her famous triple axel into the movie, take a look below:

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All photos courtesy of LuckyChap Entertainment.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN Review & Analysis

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is based on best-selling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. It’s about a divorced woman who likes watching the homes in her old neighborhood as she rides the daily train. When one of the women she watches disappears, she gets involved on a personal level.

The movie stars Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow. It’s directed by Tate Taylor (THE HELP).

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN does everything right from a technical standpoint. Everyone’s acting is fantastic and the cinematography is particularly wonderful with some beautiful and unique shots. So, by most accounts that should make it a good movie. It really depends on your definition of good movie, though, because what stood out as much as the great technical details was just how unpleasant every single person was in the film. There was not one sympathetic character and I felt an equal amount of distaste for everyone.

I couldn’t help but think, too, that Emily Blunt is starting to develop a career out of characters who may be intriguing but who aren’t pleasant to be around, all the way back to her star-making role in DEVIL WEARS PRADA and including her role in SUNSHINE CLEANING as well.

There were lots of interesting parallels between and connecting the main characters in the movie. It reminded me a lot of Alfred Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which I actually wrote a paper on in college talking about how the two strangers were connected in an X-shape, with each character “reaching out” to the other side. That’s how THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is also structured and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that one of the first things on screen is an X drawn in the condensation on the window of a train that we then see Emily Blunt’s eye through. The theme of X is continued with an email written by Tom and played across the screen as Rachel walks through a train station. I don’t want to give away too many details for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, but definitely suggest paying attention to them.

For more about THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, take a look below:


—>Looking for the direct link to the video?  Click here.

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