“I, Tonya” is based on the controversial, tumultuous story in 1994 involving Tonya Harding and her obsession with being an Olympic champion figure skater.
It’s been in release since December and is it another piece of Oscar bait? Definitely.
Margot Robbie stars as Harding, who grew up in Portland, Oregon, and realized she wanted to be a figure skater at the age of 4. Her mother trained her with an iron fist and their relationship was anything but loving and supportive.
Allison Janney costars as her mother, LaVona. Janney strikes nothing but gold in nearly every scene as the abrasive, foul-mouthed mother.
Sebastian Shaw who was Bucky Barnes in the “Captain America” movies stars as Jeff Gillooly who begins dating Tonya when he was 18 and she was 15. Once again, her mother disapproves, but there’s not much she can do when they get married.
Tonya goes on to compete in the 1992 Winter Olympics, but manages to only come in fourth place. She tries again in 1994 and this time she gets outside help when Gillooly brings in his friend and Tonya’s bodyguard Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser). He contacts two guys who sabotage a competitor, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). We pretty much know the rest of the story from there.
Equal parts mockumentary including some hilarious fourth-wall breaking, “I, Tonya” pulls no punches toward its subject.
Sure, we know the story, but it’s intriguing and downright hilarious at times when examined from the angle of those involved.
The supporting cast surrounding the three leads are equally as sharp and riveting and the entire cast brings a sense of dark humor and pathos that helps elevate the material beyond the conventions of a standard biopic. This is what I wanted and somewhat missed in “Darkest Hour.”
At the end of the film, Robbie as Harding says, “This is my truth.” Whether we know the real truth is irrelevant.
There is one truth: “I, Tonya” is close to being a masterpiece.
Rated R for pervasive language, violence, and some sexual content/nudity.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.