I Tonya (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 2-May-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Biography Audio Commentary-Director Craig Gillespie
Featurette-Behind the Scenes: VFX (1:51)
Deleted Scenes-x 5
Interviews-Cast & Crew-x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 119:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Craig Gillespie
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Margot Robbie
Sebastian Stan
Allison Janney
Julianne Nicholson
Paul Walter Hauser
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Peter Nashel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) did not have an easy life. She had been skating since the age of four; pushed by her physically and mentally abusive single mother LaVona (Allison Janney) and coached by Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) Tonya combined fierceness, rebelliousness and a will to succeed. At 15 she met Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), a not overly bright young man, with whom she had a volatile and sometimes violent relationship and whom she later married, and divorced. Being from a poor, white trash redneck background (as Tonya herself says), Tonya never fitted into the figure skating stereotype favoured by the establishment, and regularly in competition she was scored lower than other girls despite being their skating superior. However, the establishment had to acknowledge Tonya when in the National Championships in 1991 she became the first woman to complete successfully the Triple Axel jump. Tonya had arrived.

     However, Tonya’s private life with Jeff continued to be chaotic which affected her performance at the 1992 Winter Olympics, where she placed fourth. For a while Tonya gave up the sport, but with Diane’s support she divorced Jeff and tried to get herself back into shape. Her main rival for a place in the US figure skating team was Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver) so Jeff and his friend Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser), who was overweight, still lived with his parents and considered himself a top class anti-terrorism expert on no evidence whatsoever, decided to help Tonya out. What happened next, the attack which crippled Nancy, is not in question; what is very much in question is who orchestrated the attack and who knew about it? To answer that there are as many different “truths” as there were participants.

     I, Tonya has an Australian connection. The director is Australian Craig Gillespie, whose CV includes the quirky Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and also the sport themed Million Dollar Arm (2014) for Disney. Margot Robbie is also Australian, an alumni of Neighbours, who was seen recently in the big budget Suicide Squad (2016). She is quite wonderful in I, Tonya as the combative, feisty, rebellious, defiant and vulnerable Tonya, looking for love. For her performance Robbie received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, losing to Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. However, Allison Janney won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and she is marvellous, deadpan funny as well as scary as the reprehensible, foul mouthed, chain smoking mother from hell, although, like every other aspect of any of the stories within I, Tonya, this version of her may, or may not, be accurate. Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt, a counter-terrorism expert in his own mind, is also very deadpan funny.

     The screenplay of I, Tonya by Steven Rogers is impressive in playing with variations of “the truth”. The film is anchored by “modern” interviews with the actors in character as Tonya, Jeff, LaVona, Diane Rawlinson, Shawn and reporter Martin Maddox (Bobby Cannavale) telling their versions of the truth with flashbacks to the events in Tonya’s life being spoken about, including the skating performances. Many of their versions of what happened are wildly contradictory, but the film does not stop there but also adds within the flashbacks comments by the characters direct to the audience breaking the 4th wall, these comments often contradicting the event being shown at the time. Thus what is “the truth” being shown throughout the film is very subjective. This aspect of the plot is cleverly done and often very funny, which is unsettling as laughs can be interspersed with unsettling scenes of domestic violence, showing the abuse Tonya suffered from both her mother and Jeff (who, in the interview, denies that he ever hit Tonya).

     It is impossible not to feel sympathy for Tonya given her background and the challenges she faced within her personal life and against the establishment, but she is also hard to like as she is aggressive, unrepentant and refuses to take any responsibility for her decisions. This is where Robbie’s portrayal is so impressive, making Tonya, with all her faults, someone we can at least understand.

     During the end credits there is footage of interviews with the real Tonya, LaVona and Shawn; it is fascinating to see just how much especially Allison Janney and Paul Walter Hauser looked like the characters they played in the film and to hear that some of the comments by the real individuals were incorporated almost word for word into the film. There is also some incredible footage of the real Tonya skating!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     I, Tonya is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. There are “interview” and video sections in other ratios.

     Shot partly on film I, Tonya presents with strong fine detail, nice depth of field and pleasing grain. Colours have been manipulated to give a washed out look to many scenes. Exceptions are the skating sequences with their vibrant colours of the skaters’ costumes and some night scenes with glossy reds and blues. Other than artefacts that have been added to some of the video and interview footage, marks and artefacts are absent. Blacks and shadow detail is excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent.

     English captions for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English DTS-HA MA 5.1. The commentary and English descriptive audio using a male voice are both Dolby Digital 2.0.

     This is mostly a film of people talking, interviews and voiceovers. Dialogue is clear thankfully. Effects, such as the couple of gunshots, engines in one scene or skates slicing across the ice, are fine. The rears and surrounds are limited to crowd noise at the performances, airport or outside the court but mostly carry the fabulous soundtrack! The original score is credited to Peter Nashel but I must say I seldom noticed it. Instead the soundtrack presented a constant stream of familiar popular music including songs by Cliff Richard, Dr. Feelgood, Dire Straits, Bad Company, ZZ Top, Foreigner, Doris Day, Hot Chocolate, Supertramp, Violent Femmes and Fleetwood Mac to name only a few that very much added to the fun of the film!!

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary with Director Craig Gillespie

     Gillespie provides a good commentary speaking non-stop about the cameras used, camera angles and different set-ups, the cast, the balance they sought between humour and dark drama and violence, the score, where Robbie skated and how and when VFX was used, ad libs, a continuity error, breaking the 4th wall, deleted scenes, the editing. He also confirms that no rabbits were hurt during the making of the film.

Bonus Features

     Other than one of the deleted scenes all the other extras are short. There is, thankfully, a “Play All” option that runs all the following extras one after the other. Each can also be selected individually.

Behind the Scenes: VFX (1:51)

    This covers the sequence where Tonya first executes the triple axel jump. Only a few other skaters in the world can perform this jump and none were available to do it for the film. Thus this sequence is done using VFX, including face and background replacement. There is no commentary or explanation, just before and after comparisons.

Deleted Scenes

     There are five deleted scenes. The last is the most interesting; a few takes of the scene where Shawn is interviewed with occasional direction from Craig Gillespie off camera, part of which was used in the film. The packaging refers to Sean – in the film it is spelt Shawn. The scenes are:

.

Interview Footage

     There are four sections. The first three are standard EPK with behind the scenes on set footage plus short comments by Craig Gillespie, cast Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianna Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, two producers and writer Steven Rogers. The content is clear from the titles. The final section is about creating the visual effects, and is the most interesting although the section on “the truth” has its moments. This last section adds comments by the editor Tatiana S Riegal and two VFX people. The four sections are:

.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray release of I, Tonya is the same as that in Region A, with the same extras although they are arranged slightly differently.

Summary

     I, Tonya is a blast. It is very entertaining, funny, sad and distressing with a clever script and great performances. This is a true story presented with questionable accuracy but then again the truth often depends on who you are talking to at the time.

     The video and audio are fine. The extras are mostly light weight although there is not any more on releases elsewhere and the commentary is worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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