I, Tonya is the true story of Tonya Harding’s tragic career as an Olympic ice skater. The film delves into not only her career, but her notorious personal life, which was full of domestic abuse from her mother, LaVona and husband, Jeff. The story cuts back and forth between in person interviews with Tonya, Jeff, LaVona, and other witnesses as we’re led up to the highly controversial attack on Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Olympics by an unknown assaulter. The characters are flawed and the subject matter is heavy, yet the film stays upbeat through its dark comedic tone, witty dialogue, and fast-paced edits.
Although Tonya Harding was infamous for being hot tempered and narcissistic, Margot Robbie plays her with respectability and depth. We’re able to understand her behavior, rather than judge it, and in the end we’re left with compassion for this deeply wounded person. The same goes for her husband Jeff, whose played by Sebastian Stan. We know his character is irreparably violent, but we also see a very kind-hearted man, who has absolutely no control when it comes to his anger. These two characters are trying to make things work, to piece things together, but it’s clear they’ve both been too hurt to ever have a real chance. The mother, LaVona, is quite the opposite. She’s ruthless, and inexplicably mean, and is played with 100% commitment by the incredibly talented actor, Allison Janney. Not once did it feel unbelievable or over the top, even though some of her actions were at times outrageous.
I, Tonya might not be the film of the year, or an artistic masterpiece, but overall we found it to be an engaging, and compelling narrative. It’s important that there are more stories told of passionate, fearless women, especially in this day in age.
-Amber Paulette, BFF