I, Tonya, directed by Craig Gillespie is an exhilarating dive into the tumultuous life of Tonya Harding.
Starring Margot Robbie (Terminal) in the title role, the figure skater was once both celebrated and vilified in equal measure.
This darkly comedic biopic offers an unvarnished look at a complex woman navigating her way through ambition, domestic abuse, and media frenzy.
With a balance of poignancy and irony, I, Tonya not only captivates but also compels viewers to re-examine the tabloid-fueled narratives that shaped perceptions of Harding in the '90s.
What Is I, Tonya About?
I Tonya follows the story of Tonya Harding from childhood to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer Norway.
The movie opens with a faux documentary-style presentation, setting the stage for multiple perspectives. We are introduced to Harding as a child prodigy in figure skating, pushed relentlessly by her overbearing mother, LaVona Golden (Allison Janney).
Tonya's ascent in the world of figure skating championships, despite being economically disadvantaged and socially ostracised, was a remarkable feat in determination.
At the time she was the second female ever to land a triple axel in competition. She was also the first American female figure skater to do it. Her story of perceived white trash rising to the top through adversity made her incredibly popular with a huge section of the American populace.
And then she found herself entangled in a volatile relationship with her husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). The abusive dynamics between them, offer an intimate look at how this further complicated Harding’s already fraught journey.
Gillooly and his friend Shawn Eckardt hatched a plot to sabotage Harding’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan. What ensued was a scandal that spiralled out of control, effectively destroying Tonya’s skating career.
By now we are all more than familiar with the repercussions of the scandal on Harding’s life, including her ban from competitive figure skating.
Margot Robbie’s poignant portrayal reminds us that Harding was a victim of circumstances and public vilification, even as she remained an imperfect, deeply flawed human being.
I, Tonya Official Trailer
Is I, Tonya Worth Watching?
This is without doubt one of the most bizarre stories ever in sporting history. There have been countless documentaries created about what happened in the build-up to the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
One particular documentary, The Price Of Gold had candid interviews with all involved. There were some extremely strange responses from the interviewees which inspired Steve Rogers to write the screenplay for the movie I Tonya.
His narrative threads together various accounts, making it clear that the truth is murky, and distorted by human biases and media manipulation.
The film employs direct-to-camera monologues, breaking the fourth wall to allow its characters to defend themselves, further complicating the notion of a singular “true” story.
The casting of I Tonya is nothing short of genius. Margot Robbie delivers a nuanced portrayal of Tonya Harding, capturing the complexities of a woman who is both tough and vulnerable.
She makes Harding relatable and human, inviting empathy from the audience.
Alison Janney’s portrayal of LaVona Golden is both chilling and captivating. She adds depth to what could have easily been a one-dimensional villain, winning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The film's use of multiple perspectives, faux interviews, and fourth-wall breaks make for a dynamic, engaging narrative style. This not only keeps the audience on their toes but also emphasizes the elusive nature of “truth.”
It also forces us to question our own roles as spectators in her downfall, highlighting the vicious cycles of abuse, ambition, and media scrutiny.
Is I, Tonya A True Story?
Yes, I, Tonya is based on true events surrounding the life of American figure skater Tonya Harding. The film delves into Harding's early years, her rise in competitive figure skating, and the infamous scandal involving an attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
Harding was one of the top female figure skaters in the United States during the late '80s and early '90s, and she was also the first American woman to land a triple axel in competition. However, her career took a severe hit when she was implicated in a 1994 conspiracy to harm Kerrigan, her main competitor.
The film draws from interviews, archival footage, and other public records to construct its narrative. While it takes some creative liberties for dramatic effect and storytelling coherence, it aims to give a more nuanced account of Harding's life and the circumstances surrounding the scandal.
It's worth noting that while I, Tonya tries to portray the characters and events in a complex, multi-dimensional light, the real-life figures involved might have different viewpoints on the accuracy or fairness of their portrayal in the film.
Therefore, while the movie is based on a true story, it's essential to remember that it remains a dramatised account, shaped by artistic interpretation and the need for narrative coherence.
I, Tonya Movie Cast
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) as American figure skater Tonya Harding
- Mckenna Grace as young Tonya
- Maizie Smith as four-year-old Tonya
Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly, Tonya's boyfriend, later ex-husband
Allison Janney as the chain-smoking LaVona Harding, Tonya's abusive mother
Julianne Nicholson as Diane Rawlinson, Tonya's skating coach
Caitlin Carver as Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya's skating rival and Olympic teammate
Bojana Novakovic as Dody Teachman, another of Tonya's coaches
Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckardt, a bodyguard and friend of Jeff
Bobby Cannavale as Martin Maddox, a former reporter
Dan Triandiflou as Bob Rawlinson, Diane's husband and Tonya's attorney
Ricky Russert as Shane Stant, hired by Jeff and Shawn to attack Nancy
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