One of the most infamous incidents in sport has finally been given a film adaptation of the ultimate example of how far you will go to win.

The story of Tonya Harding is remembered wholly by one incident involving 2 of the best American female skaters at the time before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Tonya Harding allegedly hired a bodyguard to bust the knee of her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. I, Tonya tries to document Tonya’s life and the moments that lead up to the incident. The film focuses on the quirky and weird environment of Tonya Harding that culminated into one of the most infamous events in the sporting world.

The life of Tonya Harding is not full of sunshine and rainbows, living in a trailer park with an abusive mother who forces her to skate to the point of wetting herself, the life of Tonya shouldn’t be a comedy but it is. The tone of the film is at parts quite light hearted even in some scenes that involved domestic abuse. It was this tone I found quite disturbing, whether the events of the film could be portrayed as truth is another matter but to tackle these problems with light hearted comedy didn’t sit well. I found it uneasy to laugh at what seemed really damaging to the lives of everyone portrayed. It was a big issue that I found in the film that the tone was slightly off when it tried to be serious and inject comedy but it didn’t work.

However, when the film forgot about the comedy, there were some scenes that was truly remarkable. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Tonya Harding was fantastic, playing a strong woman that on the surface does not show emotion but there is a hint and subtle pain hidden beneath Harding that Margot Robbie puts across very well. This life was not easy and under the circumstances you can see how and why it all came down to the infamous incident. This is Margot Robbie’s finest work and all of the award buzz that she has been getting is truly deserved. The other cast was also fantastic, Alison Janney as Tonya’s mother was a scene stealer, she was irredeemable and a caricature but looking at the real interviews it seems that it was closer to the truth then originally thought. Her performance was hilarious but also heart-wrenching. Her mother was cold to the core and an interesting character that longed for more minutes in this feature.

The soundtrack was amazing, full of 80’s classic rock, the film kept the rocky, rebellious tone throughout, matching Harding’s demeanor. My toes were tapping throughout the film and I only apologise for the person who sat in front because they must of had an uncomfortable viewing with my foot hitting the back of their chair. It is definitely a soundtrack that has been playing on my spotify recently after seeing it.

I, Tonya is a very good film that at moments is funny, emotional and interesting to see the weird and wacky word that Tonya Harding was surrounded by. From her abusive husband, delusional husband’s friend, her cold hearted mother and overly sentimental trainer. I Tonya, is if anything a crazy look into someone’s life born into poverty and being a diamond in a rough. This issue with being a diamond in the rough is that it creates people who just want to leech of that success. Being famous and successful breeds controversy and there is no shortage of that here. The story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan is interesting and one wonders why it took so long to put it on film. It would of been nice to see more of Nancy Kerrigan of whom was hardly in the film and that seemed strange. I know the film was about Tonya Harding but surely it could explain the relationship between the two to create a clear motive into the attack and what led to it prior.

I, Tonya is a good film that stands out because of the performances by Robbie and Janney. It is funny, it is emotional and shocking. However the film falters at trying to balance the tone of the film. The shocking moments weren’t that shocking and the emotional moments could of been more harrowing if it wasn’t trying to by funny. Some of the jokes landed flat because of this. I, Tonya does show that Margot Robbie can have stand out performances and now hopefully leads to much meatier roles that allows her to show her range. A light-hearted look into the world of Tonya Harding, full of class warfare, family struggles and dealing with success. I, Tonya was a good film but it could of been so much more if the tone was more balanced through it’s really difficult scenes.

 

Rating – ★★★ 1/2