It’s what you all came for, folks.
I, Tonya premiered Dec. 7, 2017, and has since earned nominations for the industry’s most prestigious awards including Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild, to name a few. The film chronicles the life of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), who grew up with her single mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) in Clackamas County, Ore. The film follows her relationship with and marriage to Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and later focuses on the events surrounding the infamous attack on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, leading up to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics.
The film depicts Harding’s ice skating career from beginning to end: ranging from her falls to her ever-admired triple-axel, the jump she is most famous for, as she was the first and one of few women to ever successfully perform it. It also focuses on Harding’s hardships in skating, including being seen as a redneck girl in a princess world. She felt her frizzy hair, homemade costumes and blunt outspokenness degraded her in the eyes of judges time and time again.
An impressive aspect of the movie is its ability to truly capture characters for who they are. Not only do the actors’ clothing and features strikingly resemble the real-life people they embodied, but their expressions, their actions and their inherent understanding of one another are also spot on. Between many scenes, the camera focuses in on an “interview” from one of the characters. The actor, in character, speaks of the related event in past tense, and describes what they were thinking or going through at the time. This structure presents comedic relief between many intense scenes as the characters are far-removed from the situation and often contradict one another. It also helps the audience more closely understand the mindset of the characters.
The most emotional scene of the movie illustrates Harding staring in the mirror as she applies her makeup before her last Olympics. Her expression and emotions depict her inner-struggle and frustrations vividly to the audience.
Throughout the movie, Robbie does an exceptional job of riding Harding’s emotional rollercoaster. Harding grew up with an abusive mother, married an abusive man and suffered through great bias on the ice. Throughout her trials and tribulations, Harding experienced extreme highs, such as landing her triple axel. Although she may have been the most hated woman in America for some time, the film allows the viewer to empathize with her while contextualizing and giving true insight into the events and experiences surrounding the Kerrigan scandal.