I, Tonya Review
by Gabriel Vara
“I, Tonya,” balances the seriousness of Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding's true life story with subtle humor to make an enjoyable movie that leaves the viewer excited but sympathetic. Written by Steven Rogers and directed by Craig Gillespie, the film features Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, Sebastian Stan as Tonya’s husband Jeff Gillooly, and Allison Janney as Tonya’s mother LaVona Golden. This trio of actors worked amazingly together to create tension and pressure throughout the film.
The film follows Harding's difficult journey to be the best figure skater in the world. Born Nov. 12, 1970, Tonya Maxene Price was raised single handedly by her abusive mother to do nothing but skate. After being pulled out of school and discouraged by her mother to have any friends, Harding quickly became the best skater in coach Diane Rawlinson’s program and later in the United States. While being extremely talented, she was held back by her “redneck” reputation, music, and homemade costumes. Her biggest setback, however, was her abusive first boyfriend and later abusive husband, Jeff Gillooly. Despite these difficulties, Harding became the first female figure skater to land a triple axel jump in a competition. Unable to deliver these moves in France, Harding placed fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Although she became a waitress after, Rawlinson convinced her to train for the 1994 Winter Olympics. During her training, she is sent death threats to throw her off. Harding's husband Gillooly responds by having his good friend Shawn Eckhardt pay two men in Oregon to send death threats to fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan, but problems arise when the two men attack Kerrigan and Harding is linked to event.
Throughout the two hour long feature, nothing but sympathy arose for Harding as she passionately chased her dream of being the world best figure skater, and Robbie conveys that desire beautifully. From her crazy eyes, to heated outbursts, Robbie always commands attention when she is on screen. Contrasted with Harding’s passion, her mother, Golden, was as cold as a statue. Janney does an amazing job keeping this cold emotion throughout the film while still showing glimpses of her own brand of love. One of the most powerful lines in the film, which was delivered by her, was “I made you a champion, knowing you’d hate me for it. That’s the sacrifice that I made.” This films best aspect was by far its characters, but the actual ice skating sequences are just as impressive.
While the entire movie revolves around Tonya and her skating career, her actual on-film ice skating is not only impressive, but true to history. The skating sequences look realistic and Robbie still does a fantastic job of portraying intense passion. Even the celebration after the historic triple axel jump was spot on. Overall, this fun, but emotional movie would be enjoyed most by an older audience, and could be compared to a movie like “Goodfellas.”