“The Bad Girl of Skating”
A Review of "I, Tonya” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Craig Gillespie, Writer: Steven Rogers, Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
Competitive ice skater, Tonya Harding, rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
For my 700th film to see in a theater, I was witness to a real cinematic treat. “I, Tonya” seeks to shed some light on the most memorable event to ever occur around the sport of ice skating. It also attempts to reintroduce a character we’ve all come to know as the bad girl of skating, Tonya Harding.
The reintroduction is both hilarious and heartbreaking. It is also a totally American story about a young, poor girl from Portland, OR who possesses the talent to be one of the all-time greats. Along the way to her Olympic moment, she experiences abuse from her mother and boyfriend/husband. Their voices always seem to be in the back of her mind. She is always trying to prove something to someone else. At the end of the day, Tonya is a woman in search of love and acceptance. The heartbreaking part of this movie is that she never seems to find it. While in the spotlight, Tonya never got to live the ideal, American wholesome family. For that, she was punished by the skating community.
Of course, no movie about Tonya Harding would be complete without a retelling of “the incident.” For those needing a history lesson, “the incident” stems from a rivalry created by the media between Tonya and Nancy Kerrigan in which goons hired by an associate of Tonya’s husband hit Kerrigan in the back of the knee with a pipe before a major competition. What this film does perfectly, it implants some doubt about what we think we know about that day. In fact, it inserts so much doubt that I left the theater seeing Ms. Harding in a new light.
“I, Tonya” could have been a depressing tale about a girl from a poor family, never given a fair shot, yet still rose to be one the greatest skaters in the world only to have it all taken away from her. At some level, it is that movie, but it is told with such humor that it allows the audience to fully experience the ridiculousness of it all. For that, I cannot recommend it enough.
Be good to each other,
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