The Aventina

I, Tonya

Lucie Dumont, Editor

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The sketchy and frustrating story of Tonya Harding makes for a hilarious and quite frankly tragic film filled with the laughable characters of Harding’s life. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), Margot Robbie plays the titular role of one of the most famous figure skaters in the world until a scandal erupted involving the bashing in of Nancy Kerrigan’s knees- with ties hinting to her association. The film is made up in a way that switches between recreations of real interviews and the stories they compose, in which we see a Tonya in the late 90’s describing the fateful events. Interviewees include Tonya, her mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and her farcical former bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser).

The narrative set by the interviews begins with Tonya’s childhood. In 1970’s Portland, Oregon LaVona Golden drags a three year old Tonya to an ice skating class- where it all begins. As she grows older, Tonya’s skills develop as she goes through hardships like her father leaving and her abusive mother. At 15 she meets her future husband Jeff Gillooly, then 18. The story develops as we see Tonya marry Jeff, become the most famous figure skater in the world, only for her fame and fortune to fall again.

The film is surprisingly humorous, and not so much because of the writing but because of the actual things that were said and done in both the story and the interviews- particularly by her bodyguard. The outrageous characters in Tonya’s life makes one wonder how she didn’t go completely insane. The interchanging between interviews and events work well, allowing for a clear and clever narrative that even includes some fourth-wall breaking, which, if done correctly, is always appreciated. The acting is also a strong point. Margot Robbie’s durable performance earned her an Oscar nomination, while Allison Janney’s tough yet hilarious portrayal of LaVona saw her collect winner for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

An energetic, strong movie filled with a selection of your dad’s favorite 70’s rock CDs, Craig Gillespie’s portrayal of Tonya Harding’s hardships is definitely one not to miss.


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I, Tonya