Wednesday, January 10, 2018


The real Tonya Harding
Harding scandal revisited in wry, raucous I, Tonya 

She was famous for all the wrong reasons.

Figure skater Tonya Harding, a working-class girl from Oregon, had been a child prodigy on the ice who battled her way up the competition circuit to spots on the 1992 and 1994 American Olympic teams.

But it all came crashing down after a bizarre knee-bashing attack on her rival teammate, Nancy Kerrigan, in which Harding's husband and bodyguard were implicated. As Tonya (skillfully played by Margot Robbie) tells us in the faux-documentary, I Tonya, "I was loved. Then I was hated. Then I was a punchline."

Written by Steve Rogers and directed by Craig Gillespie, I, Tonya is an often raucously entertaining fact-based fiction film that purports to be a documentary detailing the tragi-comic incidents of Harding's early life and public career, punctuated by interviews with the key players after the fact.

The reel Tonya: Margot Robbie
This enables the filmmakers to tell the story from a variety of perspectives as the plucky competitor who was the first American woman ever to stick a triple axel in competition evolves into the most reviled woman in the world. Along the way, they generate a surprising amount of sympathy for the human being at the center of all that notoriety.

Robbie is terrific. So is Allison Janney, unrecognizable in a performance of icy waspishness as Tonya's mother, an embittered, hard-drinking, chain-smoking diner waitress with a violent temper and a vulgar mouth.

As wacky as the movie's tone often is, it delivers a scathing look at gender and class politics, and the hypocritical fantasyland of professional sports.

(Read more in this week's Good Times)

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