Thursday, January 4

I, Tonya - Review

Published: January 04, 2018



R: January 5th, 2018 | R: 120 minutes | R: R

If you were born anytime in the ‘90s or earlier, you’ve heard of disgraced Olympian figure skater Tonya Harding and “the incident”. Yes, the Olympic hit on teammate Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. However, I, Tonya delves so much deeper into the tough and dysfunctional life of Tonya Harding, and many of the circumstances that led up to “the incident”. As a ‘90s baby, I’ve of course heard this story before, but never with full detail. The now-saturated story typically goes that Tonya Harding wanted to make the Olympic team so she had her husband and her bodyguard break Nancy’s knee. While parts of this are true, there is so much more brought to light in this sarcastic, sometimes contradictory biopic.

I, Tonya takes a harsh look into the life of Tonya Harding, starting with her fearsome, cold mother – played by Allison Janney who honestly scared me at how perfectly she fell into the role, and her on- again, off-again husband/manager/abuser Jeff Gillooly – played by Sebastian Stan. You almost feel bad for Tonya, who, by the way, is played by Margot Robbie who wonderfully commands the screen. She is the punching bag in both her home life growing up and her marriage. She finds her escape in competitive figure skating, only to find more struggles in the figure skating world as she comes from a poor background trying to forge her way into such a snobby and high-class world. While judges are laughing at her hand-sewn costumes or telling her they don’t like her music choices or attitude, Harding is making history as the first American female to land the Triple Axel. It’s almost depressing to watch her trying to earn her spot in the Olympics and make a comeback as you also watch her husband and bodyguard completely ruin her career. I say ALMOST because then you hear from her on the documentary screen and realize how little responsibility she takes for ANYTHING that happens in her life.

As Tonya Harding is not someone I regularly think about or seek out to learn more about, this biopic was very refreshing, with spot-on casting to tell the story. I, as well as many I’m sure, just heard about this incident as B-level ice skater Tonya Harding is jealous of Nancy Kerrigan and has her beat up for her own personal gain. What I learned was that Tonya really had more raw talent while Nancy had the persona of a skater, and yet even with this, Tonya was not maliciously out to get Nancy. Tonya describes times hanging out with Nancy as friends – reflecting on the memories to the camera and blaming reporters for painting such a horrid picture of her. The overarching tone of the movie, with Tonya reflecting on her memories, typically claiming “nothing was my fault” mixed along with her mother’s sour attitude and her husband’s innocent demeanor contradicting much of the story-telling, claiming “that never happened” on this and that made the storyline a sharp, funny, and interesting view into a bizarre part of American history.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Lauren Lauren (Contributor) is born and raised in South Jersey. When she isn’t yelling at Philly sports teams on the TV, she enjoys seeing the latest action films and true crime documentaries.
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