” I was loved for a minute, then I was hated.” Then I was just a punchline.”- Tonya Harding
Figure skating would never be the same after the January 6th, 1994 attack on skater Nancy Kerrigan. Jeff Gillooly, ex husband of figure skater Tonya Harding, and Shawn Eckhardt, her bodyguard, were implicated in hiring two assailants to attack Nancy Kerrigan as she practiced at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It would be the scandal that would put Tonya on the list of infamy with the likes of others like Monica Lewinsky, and make her a household name.
This movie was filmed mockumentary style and broke the fourth wall. The brilliant ensemble is led by Margot Robbie (Tonya), Sebastian Stan (Jeff), and Allison Janney (LaVona Golden, Tonya’s mother). I am calling it now for Janney to get an Oscar. She blows the competition away with her portrayal. If Allison Janney does not win the Oscar for Supporting Actress then she was robbed!
Tonya Harding was thrust into the figure skating world at 4 years old by her abusive mother. Her love of the sport came across though throughout the film. Without an education, her mother withdrew her from school to focus solely on skating, Harding clung to the only thing she felt she was good at in life, figure skating. At 15 her world changed when she added another abusive person to her life, Jeff Gillooly.
Tonya and Jeff’s relationship was tumultuous from start to finish. Harding saw him as a way to get out of her mom’s house, and threw herself into her first love. They married when she was 19. The volatile nature of their personalities led to a divorce in 1993, though they were still in and out of each other’s lives. In that time Tonya accomplished coming in 3rd at the U.S. Championships of 1992, and placed 4th at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France.
As the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and Olympics of 1994 we’re coming closer Jeff and Shawn decided to take things into their own hands. The “incident” ,as it was called in the movie, happened quickly and sloppily. Criminal masterminds they were not. Tonya still went to the Olympics in the Lillehammer, Norway. She had to restart her long program, but the damage was done. She placed 8th with Kerrigan winning the silver.
After the Olympics Tonya’s trial began. Whether she knew or didn’t know about the attack beforehand, her skating career was over. She was sentenced to 500 hours of community service, 3 years probation, and a $165,000 fine. The United States Figure Skating Association banned her for life from anything associated with the USFSA and stripped her of her 1994 U.S. Championships title.
The movie ends on a broken Tonya Harding begging the judge to give her jail time. She couldn’t bear the thought of being banned from the passion of her life.
I, Tonya had humor and drama to help with the sad reality of Tonya’s life. The actors faded away and became the people they were embodying. The story flowed along and didn’t lag as so often happens nowadays. Interestingly, this movie arrived in theaters mere weeks before the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Will there be another scandalous event? I guess we’ll just have to tune in and see.