I, Tonya & Lady Bird | Film reviews

Through a combination of the realisation that I knew nothing about the Oscar nominated films and being gifted a student membership for the Cameo picturehouse from my colleagues for my birthday, I have had a couple of cinema trips recently. P.s. can we just note how lovely and cost-effective the Cameo is?! My list of films to see is still huge but I really enjoyed these first two so I felt like I could write about them a little.

I, Tonya
I really bloody loved this film. My prior knowledge was incredibly basic information of the attack on an Olympic figure skater but otherwise I didn’t know anything, but despite this, the film was totally different from what I was expecting. Yes, there is a bit of figure skating and yes, the ‘incident’ happens but those aren’t necessarily the key points that are driving the character of Tonya, but rather are things that happen to her. Realistically it is about a woman who was screwed up by so many people throughout her life, most importantly her abusive husband and her abusive mother. Despite her constant efforts to achieve something great she is forever held under the thumb of these two influences on her life, and for that reason you sympathise for poor Tonya Harding.
Margot Robbie is a beautiful actress and really gives depth to her character. Allison Janney is unbelievable as LaVona (Tonya’s mother), a character that gave her loads of intricacy and verbal brutality to play with. It’s almost comical how harsh she is to her daughter, you can’t help but laugh at her blunt remarks. My one issue with the film is that even though we had a different actress to play childhood Tonya, it is Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan who play the teenagers as they fall in love and honestly, I just didn’t buy that they were 15. I wish there had been separate actors for that time period or at east a greater effort to have them appear younger, rather than just slapping a set of braces on her teeth.
On a wider scale, the film considers issues like; the insane amounts of social pressure on professional athletes to appear perfect role models so that they can fit into the Olympic brand of the country (as if training for their sport isn’t enough to be dealing with); the casual sexism that was rife in the 80’s (thankfully we can look at that with pride in progress since then); the long-term and holistic effects of a serial of abusive relationships; and just some plain ol’ craziness in the ‘hitmen’ who thought they were making a good move when planning, committing, then bragging about the attack. What’s great as well is that sometimes the film seems too absurd to based on a true story and you think there is no way those people were that extra but during the credits, they show clips from the original interviews they recorded after the incident and the portrayals all seem pretty spot on, even as far as LaVona Harding taking the interview with a live bird on her shoulder.
I loved this film so much, even if it made me feel pretty sad, and would definitely recommend a watch.

Lady Bird
Now, I was very excited for this one because of how many people said they loved it. Like all ‘coming of age’ films, before and after, I don’t feel like I could explain what happened in action points as everything occurs kind of subtely in a prosaic kind of way.
The film follows a gal who fancies calling herself Lady Bird and is in the process of finishing Catholic high school and going to college, she sees her life in a small town and compares herself to the women in magazines or the richer girls in school and just wishes her life was different. In this case she changes her name, befriends the popular girl, has her first kiss with a boy, loses her virginity and applies to colleges in New York. All of this sounds like classic tropes of the coming of age movie but this film presents them in a way that feels different, and quite self-aware. It almost mocks some of the realities of teenage stupidity as people try to impress one another and present the image of what they think they should be, that almost makes you laugh with how awkwardly true each of the situations are. Particularly loved/cringed at the trying to sound cool when you start to flirt with boys and the way too cool alternative indie boy who is popular but tries to appear mysterious by reading by himself. All the while, Lady Bird is naturally battling against her parents, both stressed and depressed by money troubles and struggling to provide for their daughter who just wants more. Saoirse Ronan was beautiful and watching her journey through teenagehood was so well depicted and developed. Laurie Metcalf as the mother had me feeling all the feels as she lets her daughter head off to college across the country even though she was scared to lose her, especially after how much they had fought throughout the film, you know it all came from a place of huge love.
Liked this a lot, would definitely say this is a highlight in the ‘coming of age film’ genre.

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