Tonya Harding gained worldwide notoriety due to the surrounding circumstances of her rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan in gaining a spot to skate for the US in the Winter Olympics of 1994. Craig Gillespie‘s I, Tonya tells a lot of the back story which led us to this situation, mixing mock interviews with key characters with the action they are describing.
I found myself engaged with the development in the career of young Tonya and her volatile home life and the effect that it has had on her sense of worth and how she behaves. With a superb performance from Margo Robbie as Tonya central to the success of this film, it totally worked for me. But mostly this is about the style of the storytelling, alongside the amazing story itself. Superbly slipped in 4th wall breaks, dramatic scenes, some really good ice-skating to round it all out. And then there is Mom. Lavona, played to within an inch of perfection by Alison Janney. She is mean, nasty, driven and doesn’t really give a shit about anyone. Ably supported (or not really supported, more like brought down to earth) by Sebastian Stan as Tonya’s husband Jeff and his surreal, comedy sidekick Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser).
Really this is a story of fighting against the system, being told you’re constantly no good but still making it through sheer determination. It isn’t a case of she had it all and she threw it all away, more like she worked her ass off to get where she was, keeping going when she is told to quit because that is all she has even known, and it was other people who brought it all down (according to this film anyway).
A really enjoyable, well made film with great performances and a refreshing insight into this story.