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TIFF Review: I, Tonya

Controversial American figure skater Tonya Harding tells the story of her life.

A series of interviews with Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), her foul-mouth and abusive mother (Allison Janney), volatile ex-husband (Sebastian Stan), delusional former bodyguard (Paul Walter Hauser) and tabloid journalist (Bobby Cannavale) put into the context the life and times of the athlete leading up to and following the attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver).

Essentially, the case is made that Tonya Harding is a victim of circumstance whether it be the domestic violence and verbal abuse inflicted upon by her mother and ex-husband or the mandate by the International Skating Union to undermine her competitively because of coming from a poor family.

Allison Janney convincingly portrays a hellish matriarch whereas it is quite the stretch to see Margot Robbie play a 15-year-old.  The interviews and asides contribute to the whole dumb, dumber and dumbest defence for comedic effect.  The scenes of frequent physical abuse are unsettling to watch.  An alternative title should be Denial as no one wants to claim culpability for their actions, though realistic, this undermines the whole misunderstood case which serves as the heart of the movie.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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