Review: A slippery but enlightening telling of a notorious sporting story

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

Matt Adcock reviews I, Tonya (15)

Get your skates on and delve behind the scenes of one of the most notorious incidents in sporting history. Olympic US ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) became infamous for supposedly having her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked in 1994.

I Tonya gives a fascinating, darkly amusing and engaging insight into the lives of Harding and those around her in the lead up to the attack and details the fallout afterwards too.

You really don’t need to be an ice skating fan to enjoy the mockumentary style director Craig Gillespie has employed. The story crackles with memorable dialogue and winning scenes that satires the media hungry response and the personal implosion that wrecked Harding’s career. The Kerrigan-Harding affair is presented with much speculation and many possibly inaccurate recollections. Kicking off with a young Tonya (played by Mckenna Grace) who yearns to be an ice skater – if only as a distraction from her painful broken home life. Her mother is the abusive, totally driven LaVona Goldman (Allison Janney). By the time Margot Robbie takes over as Harding, her talent is getting her into competitions but because of her poor background the snobby judges won’t acknowledge her skills.

Everything changes when Harding becomes the first American woman to land a triple axel and her star finally begins to rise. But at the same time things begin to fall apart as her controlling boyfriend/husband and his even more idiotic friend make plans to intimidate her competition.

The film makes Harding out to have a heart and shows her as a sort of a victim of her circumstances. I came away with much more respect and it will certainly make you consider the situation she found herself in, her terrible life and the ongoing repercussions from the Kerrigan attack.

Robbie is superb, making what could have been villain into a flawed human worth taking time to understand. It shows you may not need to have class when you have talent but escaping your environment is another story.

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