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Based on the unbelievable but true events, I, Tonya is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as her impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, a tour-de-force performance from Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden, and an original screenplay by Steven Rogers, Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked-and checkered–glory.
Based on the unbelievable but true events, I, Tonya is a dark comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous and poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, and an original screenplay by Steven Rogers, Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding's life and career in all of its unchecked—and checkered—glory.
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I would really like to see Allison Janney get an Oscar for supporting actress.
Gillespie is a veteran director with several films and television episodes under his belt, so it comes as no surprise I, Tonya is competently handled. Rogers is mainly known for writing romantic comedies, so this film is quite a departure from his usual repertoire. Like the directing, the writing is solid but the fact it’s based on actual interviews and recordings probably made it easier.
Tonya Maxene Harding (Margot Robbie) grew up in poverty in Portland, Oregon. Her overbearing mother, LaVona (Allison Janney), pressured her into ice skating at a young age, eventually taking her out of school to pursue a career in the sport. In 1991, she became the first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition. She married Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) as a teen and their relationship quickly became abusive. Meanwhile, Gillooly’s friend, Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser), appointed himself as her unofficial body guard.
Harding finished fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics and went home to be a waitress, where Coach Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) convinced her to begin training for the 1994 Winter Olympics. Gillooly, now her ex-husband, allegedly concocted a plan with Eckhardt to intimidate Harding’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). Eckhardt hired two hapless thugs to smash Kerrigan’s knee. The event became a media sensation, resulting in Harding being banned from competitive ice skating.
I, Tonya says surprisingly little about Nancy Kerrigan, though roughly half the film is devoted to the assault and its aftermath, and attempts to portray Tonya Harding as just as much a victim. It goes to great lengths to contrast Harding’s hard-scrabble persona and background with Kerrigan’s “girl-next door” image, suggesting the judges were biased against Harding because of her background. In real life, however, Nancy Kerrigan also grew up in poverty. Her father sometimes worked three jobs and drove a Zamboni at a local ice rink in exchange for her skating lessons.
Toxic relationships in this film mean motivations are always suspect. The characters use and abuse each other in pursuit of their self interest, despite insisting they’re acting selflessly or out of love. To add to this moral ambiguity, Tonya Harding’s character tells the audience there is no “truth,” only what’s true for each individual. Only there was truth; Nancy Kerrigan really was assaulted with a baton. Shawn Eckhardt really was delusional and a pathological liar. There were consequences for these realities that Tonya Harding had to live with for the rest of her life.
So there’s constant tension between events re-created in the film and those that occurred in real life, something that characters call attention to by breaking the forth wall. This is a clever way to address a common problem with movies based on real people and events. Filmmakers frequently alter events or simply invent things in order to make a compelling story. I, Tonya tells its audience: this is true, according to a particular perspective.
I, Tonya is a clever and creative take on an infamous incident from the 1990s. I doubt many people under the age of 25 have ever heard of Tonya Harding or Nancy Kerrigan, but for people alive at the time, this incident was almost as sensational as the OJ Simpson trial. Actress Margot Robbie, who also produced the film, continues to impress and will hopefully be involved in more creative projects like this.
The performances of Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are worth watching but there is a lot more
than that. A sad story wrapped in a rather dark comic film. Just excellent.
Tonya was doomed from birth. Her mother is a sociopath and her father is a coward.
The skating association like most sports is corrupt, rigged, racist, sexist and classist.
The media (HardCopy) is like any other slime ball media. They had her truck towed and vandalized to get a reaction from Tonya, it’s vile.
Her husband and body guard seem to be inbred rejects. I tottaly believe they “mastermind” the incident and I tottaly believe Tonya thought they were simply going to send threatening letters to scare Nancy K.
I like the end of the movie when Tonya is knocked out in boxing and gets back up and continues to fight. Anyone who comes from poverty or abuse can relate to that.
I see you in a new light Tonya Harding and I can see that the media and movie industry has complete brain washing power over the public.
There are always two sides of every story
The media is corrupt to the core
If you know about child abuse and do nothing to report it or stop it , you’re just as guilty as the abuser