I, Tonya is a 2017 American black comedy biographical film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers. It follows the life of figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. It features interviews with the characters in mockumentary-style set in the modern day, as well as fourth wall breaking. Margot Robbie (who also produced) stars as Harding, Sebastian Stan plays Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly, and Allison Janney plays Harding’s mother LaVona Golden; Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver, Paul Walter Hauser, and Bobby Cannavale also star.
Although enjoyable, I find it odd that the movie focuses on Harding and her ex-husband Jeff who conspired to hurt and intimidate Nancy – maybe not to hurt her that badly – but still the story is about the wrong doers. The infamous incident about the attack on her friend and rival Nancy Kerrigan is one of sports and media history, so much so that it is still clear in my mind all these years later. Harding has stuck to her story and maintains that she did not do anything wrong other the fact that once she found out about the attack on Nancy and that her only crime is not coming out sooner, having hindered the investigation.
After Tonya’s confidence is shaken by a death threat; Jeff realises he can do the same to Tonya’s main rival Nancy Kerrigan. However, Jeff’s delusional friend Shawn Eckhart, seeking notoriety and prestige, hires two inept crooks to attack Kerrigan after a practice session in Detroit. Kerrigan’s knee is badly injured by Shane Stant, and both men involved are soon arrested. Eckhardt’s bragging around town quickly leads the FBI to him. He points the finger at Jeff, who is horrified to learn that Eckhardt gave orders beyond sending death threats via letters. Tonya qualifies for the Olympic team amid the allegations that she was involved in Kerrigan’s attack. Realizing that she will be found guilty by the association, she goes to the FBI and tells them what Jeff and Shawn did, who then show her written testimony to Jeff during the interview, and he races to her house to attack her. Tonya leaves him for good and he implicates her to the authorities, claiming she knew about the attack.
At the Olympics, Tonya comes in eighth place and Kerrigan wins the silver medal. Her abusive and inept mother comes to see Tonya amid a media circus but is thrown out when Tonya realizes she is wearing a recording device and ejects her from her home. Jeff, Eckhardt and Stant are all sentenced, with Tonya’s trial postponed until after the Olympics. Tonya avoids jail but is given three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $100,000 fine. She is also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and is banned from competitive figure skating for life. Heartbroken, she begs the judge to give her jail time rather than take away the one thing she knows how to do; the judge declines. Jeff acknowledges that he ruined Tonya’s career, changes his name and remarries. Tonya embraces her notoriety and becomes a boxer, whilst becoming a nurturing mother to her own children.
Brilliantly acted but I don’t really see the point about telling their story. It is fun to see 80s hair and clothes and the music is awesome. Robbie, the excellent Janney & Sebastian are all delightful in their roles as not so likeable people. 8 outta 10!