Written by / 1/11/2018 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

MUDDYING WATERS IN THE NINETIES-ERA BIOPIC 'I TONYA'

Year: 2017 limited and 2018 wide
First off, the otherwise competent character-actress Allison Janney's highly praised role as infamous ice skater Tonya Harding's foul-mouthed, chain-smoking mother, is nothing but a lazy imitation of an angry white trash, middle-aged bitch you'd see in any movie... She's already predicted for an Oscar nod and will probably win. But if a character is portrayed as being completely negative and pointedly one-sided, where's the irony? Where's the performance? 

Margot Robbie
Lacking direction and awkwardly pieced-together by Craig Gillespie, there's nothing going on within this party-trick of a biopic that's already being compared to Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS. Actually, because Margot Robbie co-starred in Scorsese's modern GOODFELLAS clone, WOLF OF WALL STREET, she's a cousin twice-removed within that particular cinematic universe, and, along with CASINO, he's revamped the vivacious pop culture opus three times — not including stuff by other filmmakers like I TONYA and, years ago, BOOGIE NIGHTS: Basically, at this point, the GOODFELLAS template could be a genre in itself...

Meanwhile, Robbie, partially uglied-up for the role, plays it safe and bland — although, she has more color than her boring male co-lead, who needed a few hundred doses of Eric Roberts' sinister yet vulnerable passion ala STAR 80 (another obvious influence) to keep this sleeping giant awake. Perhaps that's why Janney gets all the praise — in a cesspool of corpses, she's a tad more interesting than the nothingness surrounding her.

Score: 1/2
Even a dated TV movie during the actual 1990's tabloid era would have been superior since, in a cohesive three-act structure, we'd have to learn some of the good, bad and ugly ingredients that made Tonya Harding... including the abusive husband who supposedly programmed the attack on competitor Nancy Kerrigan with his fat scapegoat crony... actually tick...

Instead, each and every scene begins as it ends, chockful of various people giving mockumentary-interview insight, deleting any opportunity that would lead I, TONYA to not only answer a few questions but to, at the very least, answer just one without all the gimmicky distractions: Simply put, this horrendous biopic is a supped-up hot rod driving in mindless circles on a dead end road... Even an intentionally off-beat film needs rhythm — and a destination.
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