Extra Credit: Unreliable Narrator Movies to Stream After ‘I, Tonya’
In the weekly column Extra Credit, Charles Bramesco recommends supplemental viewing for moviegoers whose interests have been piqued by a given week’s big new release.
Trust no one. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb in life, but especially at the movies, where an audience has no choice but to be critical when processing the images and words on the screen. The medium can be tricky, sometimes telling you one thing and showing you another, leaving the viewer to sift through them both in pursuit of some greater truth. In fact, cinema is uniquely suited to the literary invention of the unreliable narrator; while a book can only pile words on top of words, a film can either support untrustworthy narration by adhering to it visually, or undermine it by showing the fact behind a spun account.
Craig Gillespie’s new film I, Tonya goes all-in on this tension between storyteller and story as it hashes out the details of the Tonya Harding scandal. Unreliable narrators are everywhere, often in direct contention with one another. Are we to believe the Margot Robbie-played Harding when she pumps a shotgun, turns to face the camera, and insists that she never did this? What about her bitter mother — do we take her at her word when she tells us Tonya likes to play up the hardship of her home life? We answer these questions individually when we form an appraisal of the film, but the whole point is that we can never really know.
In the spirit of Robbie’s turn as sketchy source Harding, here are five more films that play with narrative half-truths, all of which are available to stream online. Keep your wits about you: