• James Rutherford

'I, Tonya': A Titillating Depiction of Tonya Harding and the Infamous Attack on Nancy Kerrigan


Movie poster for "I, Tonya"

I, Tonya (2017) is a titillating and supremely sardonic dark comedy starring Margot Robbie as former professional figure skater Tonya Harding. The storyline follows Harding's complex upbringing in Portland, Oregon and her involvement in the infamous attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan that left Harding blacklisted from the sport.


Beginning in 1974, we follow four-year-old Tonya as she is forced into skating by her abusive mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) and trained by coach Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson). By the age of 15 Harding has risen to the elite ranks of American skating before falling into a tumultuous relationship with then 18-year-old Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). Eventually marrying Gillooly, Harding goes on to experience varying degrees of success on the international stage before becoming enmeshed in a plot to assault and disable her primary competitor, Kerrigan, in 1994.


Directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Cruella), I, Tonya is a dynamic depiction of one of the most infamous scandals in sports history. Gillespie and screenwriter Steven Rogers intriguingly fashioned the storyline from Harding's own perspective—narrating her affairs as those of a patsy betrayed by Gillooly—while serving as an ambiguously unreliable narrator. Bristling with cynicism and acrimony, Robbie carries the weight of Harding's story on her shoulders with remarkable gusto—delivering one of the most darkly entertaining sports films in recent cinematic memory.

 

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