Sometimes a story is so embedded in the bones of popular culture that it becomes redundant to hear again—I felt that way as I sat down to watch I, Tonya.
For those of you living in underground caves, I’ll briefly rehash the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan tale.
Once upon a time figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan was walloped in the knee at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Evidence pointed to figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and his friend who planned the attack on Kerrigan. Tonya claimed for years that she had no pre-knowledge of Kerrigan’s attack. Ultimately a judge found her guilty of hindering the investigation.
Fortunately, the film offers up lots more than the above incident.
I, Tonya—flashes back to Harding as a kid. From her very humble beginnings with her abusive mother (played to perfection by Golden Globe winner Allison Janney) to her violent husband, and finally, the ‘incident’ that forever mitigated Harding’s skating career, the movie manages to present a sympathetic portrait of a figure skater that some describe as white trash.
Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) and writer Steven Rogers tell the story in a mockumentary style intercutting interviews throughout. I wish they had played it straight—and just told the tale without the cheeky sound bites.
Margot Robbie—who also produced– plays Harding to perfection—and the story leading up to the ‘incident’ is a wild ride.
It’s an entertaining film, not a great film—perhaps because it plays out like satire. And at times it feels as if they’re making fun of an abused woman.
I think I just felt sad that the bad girl got a film made about her, while the victim, Nancy Kerrigan, is all but forgotten.
I guess in life it’s good to be bad—it certainly makes for a good story.
So put on your skate skirt and your leggings and twirl on over to the local cinema. I, Tonya is currently in theaters.