If you grew up in the late 80s and 90s, then you know the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and the greatest scandal in figure skating. And yes, I just said two words that don’t belong in the same sentence Scandal and figure skating. The true story of what happened is so ridiculous that in America It could only be true. So why not make a movie about it. I Tonya is that movie and what a hell of a movie it is. This has been one of my favorite movies of the year.
First, I’ll just go ahead and say that I love this movie. Not necessarily because of the subject matter, but because of the style of movie it is. The film is entirely based on interviews between Tonya Harding her ex-husband and mother. Replaying these interviews with the actors makes it comical and pretty much a satire of the events that happened because if you really think about it the story it sounds like something created by the National Lampoon Magazine. The best part about the interview style is you get so many different versions, it’s hard to figure out what’s true, but they’re also so ridiculous, there’s got to be a little bit of truth in each of their versions. This is where the brilliance of the film really comes through.
The other part that makes this movie fantastic are the performances of Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney. Because they’re acting out how they interpret the real characters you think that for a movie, it would be so over-the-top that it couldn’t possibly be true, but then again their performances are so brilliant that it makes you realize that they probably are true. Good actors can tell their character story in such a way that it puts you within that story. And since we as America watched the true story unfold from news stations like CNN to hard copy twenty-three years ago and it’s been ingrained in our pop culture, it’s not hard to put ourselves within that story. The movie basically takes us from the beginning days of Tonya Harding training to be a skater all the way up to marrying her ex-husband and ending with Nancy Kerrigan getting clubbed in the knee right before the 1994 Winter Olympics and then all the events afterwards. I can’t say for sure that there’s anything more we will learn from this movie that we didn’t already know from ESPN documentary Going for Gold. But the satirical nature of this film should make you want to watch this before you watch a documentary because you’ll sit there asking yourselves this couldn’t possibly be true but only to realize it probably is.
Well, I’m not going to spoil this film because we all know what really happened, I Tonya is an absolute must see film, especially if you watch the story unfold 23 years ago on TV and lived through it. Trying to figure out what is actually true and what’s not is half the fun of watching this movie, but the performances of all three actors I mentioned above who were so spot-on with their characters, especially with how ridiculous the people they’re portraying really were back then and it makes for an entertaining film. However, the portrayal of Shawn Eckertt who masterminded the whole clubbing of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee and thought he was some kind of secret agent is well worth the price of a movie ticket just to see his story in the movie.
The only real complaint that I had about this movie and keep in mind, I couldn’t stop laughing was a couple of lulls in the third act in between Tonya Harding s Landing the triple Lutz to getting to the 1994 Olympics. The film is fairly long and I think there’s about 15 minutes that wasn’t necessary and made the film drag a little bit, but that’s the only true complaint I have. The performances of Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and especially Allison Janney we’re so fantastic that you really don’t feel like you’re sitting there for two hours. It’s hard to say who had the better performance because Margot Robbie makes a great Tonya Harding, but Allison Janney steals the movie in a lot of ways and is worthy of an Oscar nomination.
Yes, this film is absolutely brilliant because of the way it’s told through interviews and not knowing what is the true version only to realize that all of it is probably true. Who have all of the actors break the fourth wall and tell their version of a story is comical and fantastic. This movie is not meant to be a drama, it is a comedy, but the best job of the film is to show how tragic of a figure Tonya Harding really was. She was never the darling princess in the figure skating world because she was poor and rough and it never truly mattered about her skating talent, but born out of that animosity by the figure skating Elite a ridiculous story and scandal that should never be within figure skating. I think I Tonya does a great job and showing the satirical nature of this story and all of its characters. But I also feel like it does vindicate Tonya Harding in some way. She definitely gets the last laugh because we’re not talking about a movie made about Nancy Kerrigan, who couldn’t be be less interesting if she tried. Tonya Harding is interesting. And the movie I Tonya definitely proves it.
Even if you’re not a fan of figure skating and didn’t care much about what really happened, this movie is still worth watching because we all know what happened at the 1994 Winter Olympics. This movie is worth seeing because of the brilliant performances of Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney. It’s worth watching because only through satire can you truly tell the story. The film definitely has the right tone and when thinking about the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan story all we can really do now is just laugh. Maybe it’s not Oscar-worthy, but it’s definitely a 9 out of 10 for me.