hopscotchee: sebastian stan score: 84 rating: R time: 109 minutes
this 2017 academy acclaimed feature was bound to make its way into our hopscotch one way or another for how many times we seem to watch it. at first many may be wary of this film for its story's controversy revolving around "the incident" between pro ice skaters nancy kerrigan and, supposedly, tonya harding. however these 109 minutes detail a very different version of this infamous moment in 90s pop culture. i, tonya tells the story of (duh) tonya harding through the interviewed perspectives of her on-and-off boyfriend, her questionable "bodyguard", her mom, her coach, an employee from hard copy (for the youngsters out there, that's a news outlet), and tonya herself. if you haven't seen it, we highly recommend this one. it's absolutely a fascinating watch no matter how many times you watch it and an even more needed watch for the voice that it brings to the screen. 'cause you know what they say: ever story has two sides....and this is a wild one!! (advisory note: this film drops the 'F' bomb a whole lot, and, even though we don't mind it, we recall it being a big deal when this film came out. so, we guess, you do what you want with that information.)
to break the ice (hashtag britney) this film wouldn't be the same without its directing, so shouts to craig gillespie (director) and nicolas karakatsanis (director of photography). this duo brought together all the suspense and action with seemingly simple yet complicated shot work that doesn't deserve to be overlooked.
it's clear that lots of time, planing, and thought went behind the shot list for the film is packed full with a laundry list of dynamic shots. this can easily be noticed for all the times that the film's storytelling model (tonya narrating) breaks the fourth wall during a retell of events (ex. (spoiler) when tonya has a shotgun and says that she never shot it at jeff). the idea of stylization may be simple to imagine but the commitment is a tasking effort. you really got to be organized and great with your time management to stay on top of all the little things. as a director, you also need to really focus on creating a fun and enjoyable work climate for your actors/actresses/talent and crew to be on set that many times. it's really an onion-layered process if you start thinking about it all. also not to be forgotten, the film consists of reenactments of the actual interviews, meaning that the cast and crew had to go about recreating those for the film. and, additionally, i, tonya didn't just scrap together mediocre shots, the skills and techniques woven into the camera work was quite crafty. especially when it came to the choreographed sequences of tonya (margot robbie) on the ice. these sequences include lots and lots of blocking and staging to make the performance look graceful and elegant for the audience and engaging for the screen.
(on the other skate, we were a little whiplashed from the back and forth use of heavy cinematography and light cinematography. obviously, obviously, it wasn't that much of a distraction, and we overall appreciated the planning and choreographing of shots much more, but we wanted to mention that, at times, the film felt like it was playing peek-a-boo with our eyes.)
another trick up i, tonya's sleeve was its costuming. when it comes to biopics, people can get fussy fast. which makes sense. the audience is going to be primarily made up of those who the biopic's time period or decade it associates with. anyone who was alive during the time is going to be the target audience. and if their version of memory doesn't align with what the set design and costume departments demonstrate on screen, that's when the fussiness begins, and you'll definitely be hearing about it. hence why we applaud the account of tonya's skate leotards (is is just leotards??). yes, it is more difficult to have wiggle room when it comes to accountedmargot robbi pop culture, but that doesn't mean all movies don't just fudge the details. the costume team went out of there way, did their research, and brought to life some of tonya's most memorable looks, which really took the audience back to the time and made it easier to get sucked in and feel like you are back in time for 109 minutes.
striking our final pose in this review, we will end with the acting. seems a little strange if we didn't, given how much we love sebby stan and allison janney. HOWEVER PRIOR, we need to be real. we won't rant forever about this, but margot robbie doesn't look like tonya harding!! she just doesn't. like, little shout out to any future biopic-maker, get someone who actually looks like the person you are surrounding your story around *🙄*. at the end of the day, margot robbie's performance was the grand takeaway with the showstopper (and our favorite moment) being (spoiler) the court case "just let me skate" scene. her unwavering pleas are utterly heartbreaking while you watch her bask in her unfit fate. when it came to sebby any of his instant cry-breakdowns were our favs, as weird as that is to say. our favorite though had to be (spoiler) the way his face just switches like a light switch when he finds out tonya gave him up to the feds and that he has lost her for good. in the end, both margot and sebby shined on screen even during the darkest moments.
that said, to take a bow, we also want to note that this is a drama mixed with heavy loads of comedy. that means, although it may not resonate the same way (and therefore be more enjoyable to watch *not as heavy*), the abuse storylines are just as serious. abuse is never okay. did you hear that?? abuse is NEVER EVER okay. here at twinsAF, we want to emphasize the naïveté that comes to play when films deal with heavy topics. it can be misleading when movie-watching is treated as a fun and delightful experience to really take the time to sit with the weight of the acts. it's not to say that films can't be serious, but there is a bit of normalization that happens. especially if the conflict in the story's consistent. for i, tonya, the plot has a consistency with abuse. while watching the severity of tonya and jeff's relationship may begin to normalize in your brain so that you just begin to watch a movie, forgetting that this is based on a true story. you may still be aware and know that abuse is bad, but your brain dulls it out throughout the watch. it's not necessarily the audience's fault because that's what some storytellers tend to do. like "this is about tonya's skating career not her relationship with jeff" but the whole freakin' point of the scandal is because she knew jeff!! anyways, we just wanted to make it clear that we do not condone any type of abuse, and we believe that all toxic relationships are a no-no.
the only toxic you should have in your life is "toxic" by britney spears.
-- thanks, sebby stan xo