I Tonya Gold

I, Tonya Brings Home the Gold

It takes the country by storm for one week every four years and we never hear about it outside of that time frame.

No, I’m not talking about an update on Bob Barker’s health, a New Year’s resolution to get back on the treadmill, the anxious wait for a new Carly Rae Jepsen album or Joel Embiid’s availability to play twenty-minutes of a basketball game.

Figure skating dominates the major television channels for a brief moment and holds all boyfriends across the country hostage in their girlfriend’s living room. Although some boyfriends might be chained to the living room couch, there’s plenty to appreciate about the sport.

The skaters glide on the ice, gracefully place their feet one in front of the other, lift their bodies high in the air, spread their arms out like the medal is in reach and elegantly nail the landing; triumphant classical music plays in the background.

As gracious as figure skating may sound, it takes hours of hard work and dedication to master. But what happens when dedication goes too far?

Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie, was a figure skater who started at the age of four.

Her mother, played by Allison Janney, is a toxic and abusive intimidator who forces her daughter to pour everything she has onto the ice.

At fifteen, Tonya meets her husband, played by Sebastian Stan, who also torments the figure skater with punches to the face and pushes at the wall every day.

Despite the pernicious people in her life, Tonya still finds the will to be one of the greatest figure skaters on the planet.

That is, until an incident occurs.

I, Tonya sets aside the media buzz and fabricated stories to give the real account of the disgraced olympic star. It takes a documentary approach, cutting to interviews of the characters today while telling Harding’s story.

The film is nominated for three Oscars including Best Actress for Margot Robbie and Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janney.

Going into I, Tonya I knew there was a negative opinion toward the figure skater, but I didn’t know what exactly happened.

I saw the film with my father, who knew of the hoopla surrounding Harding’s incident, but nothing else. Despite how much one thinks they know about Harding, I, Tonya helps broaden the viewer’s perspective on the controversy that happened twenty-four years ago.

Harding put it best when talking to Oprah by saying something along the lines of, “I’ve been used by people my whole life.” Harding had a difficult upbringing that many overlook.

Imagine your father has left and your mother is the only family you know. Although your mother is the closest person in your life, she abuses you mentally and physically everyday no matter what you do. Even if you nail a triple axel jump, it’s expected that your mother is sitting in the stands with a disgruntled look on her face.

Years later, you find the person you fall in love with and move in with him for a better life. This better life is met with more punches to the face each day and scrutiny on your looks, intelligence and actions.

Harding’s tumultuous upbringing will make one appreciate the things they take for granted. Whether it’s a parent cheering on their child in the stands or a significant other’s warm caress, these are the gifts one should cherish each day. Without these gifts, life gets tough and becomes difficult to understand. Tonya has been punched, stabbed, shot and yelled at, yet she still puts a smile on her face when she completes an event on the ice.

To tell the story, each character gives their perspective through interviews that reflect a certain moment. This helps bring strong character development. Not only can we see a character’s true colors through their actions, but we can try to step into their shoes during the interviews.

Every character has their fair hearing and it’s up to the viewer to decide who was right or wrong in Tonya’s life. Forget the media’s opinions and words on the street; I, Tonya tells the story ice cold.

Not only are we given a strong account of Harding’s story, but we also receive strong performances as well. Margot Robbie gives an outstanding performance as Tonya Harding. Harding is a hard-nosed figure skater who brings a unique image to the sport.

While all the skaters sit in their locker rooms preparing for their event, Harding is outside in the hallway puffing on a cigarette. After her cigarette, Tonya smokes the competition with her seamless skating.

Although Harding’s skating features stunt doubles, the actress’ scenes on the ice are still well done as she shows off her footwork gliding around the rink.

There is a moment in the end that perfectly captures Robbie’s performance as Harding when all the bottled up emotion cracks.

A person who doesn’t bottle her emotions is Harding’s mother, played by Allison Janey.

I thought The Sopranos was packed with foul language, but wait until you hear her mother.

The mother curses like a sailor with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. When Tonya’s mother has an empty hand, expect a swift blow to her daughter’s face with any object, including a hairbrush.

I, Tonya will break the ice well with viewers who lived through the Harding incident and for those unfamiliar with it.

Tonya Harding’s story is insane because of the choices made by the destructive people who surrounded her.

Sure, Harding was not perfect like the figure skaters we see on our TVs once every four years, but it’s incredible how far she came.

Figure skaters usually wear the gorgeous outfits, the perfect makeup and the sparkling smile, but for some it’s a facade.

Harding hid the verbal and physical abuse she endured for years, but used it as fuel for success.

IMAGE TAKEN from whitehatvn.com