In 1994, USA Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked at a skating rink in Detroit by a man named Shane Stant. Her knee was broken and the chances of her competing in the next Olympic Games were up for question.
This story shocked the world as it was revealed that another USA Olympic figure skater had connections to many people involved in the plan to attack Kerrigan, the figure skater’s ex-husband and bodyguard being two of the prime suspects in the assault case. As the revelations of the event unfolded, it sparked a controversy over the figure skater and whether or not she was involved in any plans to “take out her competition” as many suspected. Many remember the figure skater in question: Tonya Harding.
“I, Tonya” is a film of the life and infamy of former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, told by different characters in a documentary-like fashion. The plot follows Harding from her first steps on the ice, to her relationship and divorce with now ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, to entering in various figure skating competitions and then getting her position in the 1992 Winter Olympics. The film then went on to show the events leading up to the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, telling the story from each person’s point of view as the plan comes to light.
The film was excellently cast, most notably Margot Robbie playing the titular role, Sebastian Stan playing Jeff Gillooly and Allison Janney playing Harding’s mother LaVona Golden. Each member of the cast was able to capture not only the characters’ mannerisms and physical attributes, but also the way they believe the incident unfolded.
“I, Tonya” skillfully used comedy, drama, crime and many other genres to its advantage at different points in the film. The actors did a fantastic job at going with the tone shifts to aid the story’s entertainment value. They also broke the fourth wall to their advantage. Since the film used flashbacks from the stories in each person’s interview, the ability for the actors to look into the camera and switch storytelling styles was directed skillfully.
There was, however, one big problem that many had with this film. Since Harding’s involvement in the incident has been a subject of high debate, many believed that the movie was leaning towards her innocence and attempting to lessen her role in the assault by saying she was unaware someone was going to attack Kerrigan. The film does well when showing how different people in Harding’s life affected who she became, but on occasion it would use this as an excuse for her acting out the way she did. In truth, nobody knows if the story she told the FBI was fiction and many still do believe that she was heavily involved in the plan.
Overall, “I, Tonya” was a whirlwind of a film, craftily capturing a controversial event and telling a story that many witnessed but never truly got the answers to. In the end it is able to leave you thinking: “Who do I believe was to blame?”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.