“THE haters always say: Tonya, tell the truth … There’s no such thing as truth. Everyone has their own truth.” So says the real life subject of this crazier-than-fiction figure skating biopic/domestic drama that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and makes sure you pay attention.

It tells the outrageous true story of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, Oscar-nominated for the role), a strong-willed, sharp-tongued, no-nonsense young woman who was at one time considered by many to be one of the best figure skaters in the world.

Framed around wildly contradictory interviews years later with herself, abusive ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (a pleasingly against-type Sebastian Stan) and monstrous mother LaVona (Allison Janney, also Oscar-nominated), it charts her rise up ranks of the championship skating world from a young age. It all builds up to a violent incident in 1994 involving fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan being assaulted that saw Tonya’s life hit headline infamy.

Diverse director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours) takes on a difficult, oddball true story and works it into a captivating, darkly funny film adept at getting to the heart of the story in creative and stylistically intriguing ways. It justifiably brings to mind Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, thanks to its eclectic soundtrack, sharp editing and a general middle-finger-to-the-world attitude.

It has bags of personality as it explores this singular figure thrust into the world of competitive skating barely after learning to walk at the behest of her ultra-demanding mother, astonishingly played by Janney, who lobs profane insults and cutting jibes at her daughter out of a misguided sense of love that it will somehow make her skate better.

Robbie is equally brilliant as the titular figure, diving head first into a vanity-free portrayal of a woman easy to misunderstand – as evident in the trial-by-media that occurred after what the film playfully refers to as “the incident” – and one that makes for an utterly compelling protagonist. A key scene involving Tonya putting on a brave face consisting of a desperate grin behind thick make-up in front of a mirror before one of her performances exemplifies just how convincing Robbie is in the role.

Gillespie juggles tones with a mostly successful level of grace, taking icy swerves from flat-out ridiculous, profanity-laden comedy to the impressive spectacle of the skating itself (some ropey face-swapping CGI aside) to its cartoonish, arguably flippant tackling of domestic violence.

Like its characters, it’s sometimes unapologetically problematic but also consistently fascinating and absorbing dramatic storytelling with a vein of jet-black humour pulsing throughout and with a firm belief that there’s more than one side to every story. But that doesn’t mean they should be trusted.