“Slapstick Tragedy”: I review “I, Tonya”

“Slapstick Tragedy”: I review “I, Tonya” January 9, 2018

at First Things. And I did an extended twitter thread of notes, outtakes, and skating videos which I think is a good companion to the piece.

There seem to be two directions in which a movie with this knowing, winking attitude can go. If we’re lucky, it will be pure camp, in which the grotesque, disgraced female is an audience-identification figure, a pitied monster. If we’re unlucky, it will be a comedy of contempt, inviting us to laugh at lowlife Tonya and her endless excuses. The startling achievement of Craig Gillespie’s film is that although it does display the lacerating empathy of camp, for almost its entire run time it balances perfectly on a double-edged blade: the outside edge of satire and the inside edge of tragedy.


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