I, Tonya Skates Under the Radar

Our Rating

8 Our Score

Collin Anderson/Managing Editor

I, Tonya is a film that falls under both the comedy and drama genres. It is about the upbringing, personal life, and rise to fame of former Olympic figure skater, Tonya Harding.

The film stars Margot Robbie and tracks the development of Harding as, not only a skater, but also as a person. The movie starts with Harding at the age of four in Portland, Ore., and details, not just the physical, but mental abuse Harding endured from her mother while she was growing up. While gifted with the incredible ability of ice skating, her mother pulled her out of school so Harding could focus on perfecting her skating. Harding fell in love and married Jeff Gillooly, played by Sebastian Stan. Gillooly was the textbook definition of an abusive husband. In one instance, Gillooly shot at Harding, but the shot ricocheted off a car and hit her in the head. Nevertheless, Harding persisted in working her way into the record books.

On Feb. 16, 1991, at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., Harding became the first American woman to land the triple axel successfully. Winning the championship earned her a slot to participate in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. It was here that she finished fourth behind teammate and friend Nancy Kerrigan.

When the International Olympic Committee announced they’d be conducting the Winter Olympics in 1994, Harding hit the ice again and got ready to compete in Lillehammer, Norway. Gillooly and his friend, Shawn Eckhardt, planned to hire Shane Stant to send Kerrigan death threats to scare her into not competing and thus making sure Harding had a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Eckhardt instead had Stant hit Kerrigan with a telescopic baton just above the knee, forcing her to withdraw. This scandal became one of the most infamous incidents of the 1990’s. Harding was found guilty of conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers and was banned from all USFSA events and competitions at the age of 23.

The costume design and makeup alone are fantastic. The way Margot Robbie portrays Tonya Harding in both acting and look is astounding, and at the same time, eerie. Sebastian Stan is made to look exactly like Jeff Gillooly down to the most exquisite detail. The other amazing aspect of the movie is the cinematography. The continuous camera shots in the skating scenes are some of the best camera work in any film. The movie has been nominated for three Oscars including best performance by an actress in a leading role, best performance by an actress in a supporting role, and best achievement in film editing.

Earning just over 264 thousand dollars in a limited release on opening weekend, and grossing almost 16 million dollars as of Jan. 25, I, Tonya has been one of the most underrated movies of the year thus far. Films like The Post and The Last Jedi have eclipsed it with star-studded casts and legacy plot lines. However, make no mistake, this movie stands strong by itself.

The traditional elegance and grace associated with figure skating has been thrown out the window in this movie and for a good reason; the real world is not elegant or graceful.