When I think of Tonya Harding, I think of only one thing: the disgraced former Olympic figure skater back in the 90s. I do not think about her accomplishments or the fact that she was the first woman to ever land the triple axel. Instead, I think of the ‘whack’ heard around the world in 1994, when Harding’s former fellow U.S Olympic teammate, and rival, was clubbed in the knee with a baton by an unknown assailant at the time. The incident became one of, if not the most, shocking scandals in the world of figure skating. Tonya was stripped of her titles and was banned to compete in figure skating for life.
The events leading up this moment was the subject of the new movie, “I, Tonya,” which I saw over the weekend. The movie took a rather honest, often brutal, darkly comical take on the life of Tonya Harding through the accounts of her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, mother, Lavona Harding, and Tonya Harding herself through reenacted interviews played by Sebastian Stan as Gillooly, Allison Janney as Lavona Harding, and the beautiful Margot Robbie as Tonya.
The film relentlessly went back and forth from the interviews reenacted that took place in real life to the events on Harding’s account of what had really happened to her outside of the skating rink: severe mental and physical abuse at the hands of both her mother and her husband, that skating really and truly was the only good thing that she had.
Here’s my honest take on it: I liked it. I thought it was very entertaining, and actually a lot funnier than I imagined it to ever be. It was clearly a movie of redemption for Tonya as she is depicted as the good person who was just wronged on so many levels. Her mother was so abusive that at one point, there was a scene in which she and her mother were in such a heated argument that her mother threw a kitchen knife that stuck in her arm.
They also made her out to be super relatable to the rest of us as Harding, played by Robbie, proclaims that she, “has always been a redneck and has never apologized for it.” Her bluntness and endless use of her middle finger when someone annoys her ensues laughter in the theater. People who are unapologetic about themselves always find other ways to make themselves lovable, and I think they tried to really push for this to be ingrained in us as viewers.
As much as I was probably in the crowd laughing too, I, oftentimes, too, felt that the movie was somewhat tacky. The fact that the movie is supposed to be a comedy made me feel like they made light of the Nancy Kerrigan incident because they actually reenacted it more than once! And in one of the reenactments of the notorious scene, they actually showed Harding whacking Kerrigan with a baton, as Harding narrates the scene, “some say they saw me do it,” with blood spatters on Robbie’s face as she stares blatantly in the camera.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but I’m still not buying it. I probably would have enjoyed this movie more if it were fiction, but the truth is, someone unnecessarily got hurt, and someone did nothing to stop it, whether she really had the full scoop of what was going on or not. This movie was an obviously biased take on her account. It almost felt like they made this movie to glorify her so she can finally get the redemption she probably has been waiting for all these years. The movie was good, but I could have lived without seeing the ‘whack’ heard around the world multiple times with Robbie’s blood-spattered face going at rival’s knee.
Featured image via I, Tonya on Netflix