Reel Shorts | I, Tonya

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

Margot Robbie leads us into a look at possibly the world’s most notorious sports criminal in I, Tonya.

The story of Tonya Harding, skating champion, may be well forgotten seeing as though the seminal event in the story happened over twenty years ago. In this movie, the life and events in the life of Tonya Harding played by Margot Robbie are reviewed up to and including the moment where her skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked.

Let’s be clear. I was always a fan of Harding. She landed the Triple Axel before anyone else in the competition. She was extremely talented and she was nothing like the prissy image that figure skating had wanted for its reputation and Kerrigan was. Harding was a plain old country girl and that was totally appealing. I, Tonya illustrates all of this and more. From her harsh upbringing to her failure at marriage to Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), all of it depicted in this riotous biopic that is based upon the testimony of all involved in the investigations that followed the Kerrigan incident.

Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Big Short, Focus) is brilliant and refreshing as the troubled and completely transparent skater. Sebastian Stan (Logan Lucky, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Martian) is serious playing the two sides of Gillooly, one smart and loving the other quick-tempered and violent. Speaking of which, the Academy Award nomination goes to Allison Janney (The Help, Juno). Best known for her roles on NBC’s The West Wing and recently CBS’ Mom, Janney plays Harding’s mother, LaVona Golden, a malicious and non-repentantly evil woman who believes her violent and abusive treatment inspired her daughter to greatness.

The best part of the movie is its direction. Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours) creates a movie that plays like a documentary and takes a semi-serious look into how Tonya Harding came to be who she is. The greatest trick of the movie is bringing the viewers to the point of questioning Harding’s culpability and involvement in the actions taken by Smith and Stant upon Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.

I, Tonya is rated R for violence, violence, and some sexual content/nudity. It is a tongue-in-cheek, hilarious look back at an infamous time in sports when desire overwhelmed sense and the truth is still out there. After all, was she really responsible?

Grade B+