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Plenty of Guts, Little Glory: I, Tonya Review


By Janey Beardsley

With the 2018 Olympic Games kicking off, I, Tonya came just in time to spread nostalgia of the world’s biggest Olympic scandal. The film follows Tonya Harding, the former Olympic ice skater in her “irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true” story.

Harding’s global story developed after coming in fourth place in the 1992 Winter Olympics, thus creating a rivalry between her and her USA teammate, Nancy Kerrigan. Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s then husband, hatched the scheme to send Kerrigan threatening letters to scare her from performing at the 1994 Olympics, giving Harding a leg up. The plan turned sour after the letters turned into smashed kneecaps resulting in “the incident.”

When we picture Olympians, Harding isn’t exactly the type of person we see fit the description, but there is no denying the fact that she is an incredible skater. She puts her all into her craft and she was the first woman to complete a triple axel for God’s sake.

However, the film seems to lose focus on the skating itself and focuses instead Harding’s chaotic upbringing. Every other scene Harding was either verbally abused by her mother, LaVona Golden or beaten bloody by her on-again-off-again lover, Jeff Gillooly. It was definitely rated R for a good reason.

Margot Robbie did a phenomenal job portraying the love-hate character that is Tonya Harding. She was rude, impulsive and very, very aggressive, but we couldn’t help but root for her throughout the film. Yes, she MAY have been involved in a frightening assault, but when the judge told her she would never skate again, you could truly feel her heartbreak.

Sebastian Stan took on the role of Gillooly and played him to perfection. He was threatening in the most unconventional way. His character’s debut led us to believe Gillooly was a sweet, goofy guy, who just didn’t know how to act around other people. It made him lovable. However, a few scenes in, and we realize his lovable-ness is only skin deep . . . if that. He is constantly abusing Harding, smashing her into various glass decorations, and making her feel as though she didn’t have a choice of being with him or not.

Finally, no one can forget Allison Janney’s, LaVonda Golden, easily the most surprising character in the whole film. She was the one who got Harding her start in the ice skating business. However, what we didn’t know was how ruthless and dare I say, evil she was. Golden constantly verbally and occasionally physically abused her daughter. Her claim? Tough love would improve her performance. I think at most, it made Harding confused about what love really was.

Regardless of the all the character’s amazing performances, the direction the film took was that of controversy. The film was divided up into the talking-head interviews and the storyline scenes. However, at certain points the film would combine the two and a character would direct their attention to the camera mid-scene.

Many critics considered this a “cop out”. However, I thought it was brilliant; it was a reminder that the scenes you’re seeing are what the characters in Harding’s story claim happened, it’s their interpretations. What truly happened the days leading up to “the incident,” are still up for debate.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was entertaining, exciting and emotional. As the credits rolled, film of the actual interviews in which the movie is based on play. I, Tonya is a film I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for great acting and a crazy, true story.

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