Sunday, 18 February 2018

Movie Review: I, Tonya (2017)


I, Tonya (2017) is a movie about competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the sport is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes. It is based on irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) and Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), her ex-husband. I couldn't resist watching this movie because I thought it was about ice skating and I'm crazy about that. However, it's not really about ice skating but rather Tonya Harding's life up to Nancy Kerrigan's attack and how it affected her and her skating. Here's a somewhat brief summary of the movie and most of her life leading to the big event. Spoilers ahead, I guess.

Tonya's mom (Allison Janney) was a smoker and alcoholic and was pretty much terrible to her while she was growing up, hitting her just because but still working double shifts to pay for her training. She's portrayed as not letting Tonya use the toilet while skating and hitting her because, as she said, Tonya would skate better when enraged. Something that made me angry is that we then see Margot Robbie in the 80s pretending she's 15 years old so we had an almost 30 year old woman playing a girl half her age. They cast a girl for 7 years old so I don't understand why they wouldn't cast a teenager to play teenage Tonya. Or rather, I do understand since Tonya was 24 in 1994 and they needed Margot to play the character. Still, in my opinion, she's just too old (even with braces) to play a 15 year old.

She ended up quiting school so she could concentrate on ice skating, got a boyfriend who also started hiting on her, which is lovely. However and despite her dedication, she wasn't graceful for the competition, neither were her choice of music or her presentation, as they also judge on appearance. She wasn't the image they wanted to portray as they wanted the "wholesome of american family".

Tonya was first american woman to complete a triple axel in a competition: "you skate backward and then take off from a forward position on your left leg and then somehow you hurl yourself in the air three and a half rotations land on the opposite foot on the back outside edge". After the triple axel, everything changed. Jeff started hitting her for no reason again (I don't think he ever stopped, it just got worse), and she left him and filed a restraining order against him. Despite everything, she went to the Olympics in 1992 but failed her triple axel because of her skate, allegely.

Her life leading to the main event, according to the movie, was full of ups and downs. She was constantly leaving Jeff and going back to him. Tonya received a threat before the National Championship and Jeff got thinking about doing the same thing to Nancy, allegely one of Tonya's friends. So after Nancy's practice she was attacked with a police baton on the right lower thigh but she recovered for the 1994 Olympics, getting the silver medal. Tonya had trouble with the laces on her skates and was given a re-skate by the judges but ended up in 8th place.

The FBI found a paper with Tonya's handwriting with Nancy's training location and schedule - the plan was to send her death threatning letters to mess with her head for the competition, not an assault. I must say the most difficult part to watch was Tonya's trial. They scheduled it til after the competition and Tonya ended up being banned for life from figure skating for life (she then became a lady boxer). It was heartbreaking watching Margot Robbie say how she'd prefer being sentenced to jail instead of being forbidden to skate, that was an amazing performance from her!

People say a lot of times this was the most important event in the year, that Tonya Harding was the most known person after Bill Clinton and but I feel like this was just in the USA, I'm not sure of how much of an impact this attack had on a global scale. I am disappointed there's not a lot of figure skating, as this was what I went for. I sort of lost the interest halfway through because it focuses too much on the attack instead of figure skating. I get they must feel like this was a huge event back then, but was it really?

Have you watched this movie? What's your opinion about it? Do you agree with me or do you have a completely opposite opinion?

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