Here's what I remember from the January 6, 1994 attack of Nancy Kerrigan and keep in mind I was 14 at the time. Kerrigan was attacked at a skating rink by Shawn Eckhardt, the fat bodyguard of Tonya Harding, so that she couldn't beat Harding at the Olympics. That was pretty much it. Everyone thought it. Also, Tonya and her husband Jeff Gillooly set it all up.
Again I was only 14 so I didn't pay that close attention to the news. Turns out, we were all mostly wrong.
I, Tonya works to set the story right and walks the fine line of defending it's titular character while still not completely defending her. This is a hard mark to hit and has been targeted and missed in many biopics, notably the 2001 film Blow.
The film's story is so well executed and laid out with tons of details not commonly known, that I will stay away from the actual details of the film so you may enjoy it on the same level as I. Instead I would like to express how much I loved the architecture of the film.
Writer Steven Rogers had a great real-life story on his side and pulled the most intriguing elements out of what was provided. Not only the actual assault but the harrowing story of Tonya Harding's personal life from childhood to present. It's quite a feat since the majority of people who know the story already have preconceived notions about Harding herself cemented in their minds. Notions that will crack as the end credits roll.
The format of the story is laid out as a documentary film told in retrospect while sometimes narrating directly from the flashback. A trick that when done wrong can be disastrous and take you out of the moment but never is in this movie. Now, director Craig Gillispie has had a real hit-or-miss career including Mr. Woodcock and Lars and the Real Girl, luckily for everyone I, Tonya is an absolute hit.
The film raises Tonya Harding from the level of villain to hero by the time the film concludes. She had many people in her life who tore her down and about three quarters of the way through the film another villain is revealed and, not to give too much away... You leave feeling much different about her.
Whenever a biopic comes out I always turn to the internet judge how well the film was cast. That wasn't necessary in this instance since I was already familiar with most the player, except for Tonya Harding's mom. Most times Hollywood tends to cast far better looking people than the actual humans involved and this movie is no different. The true stand out was Allison Janney's LaVona Golden in both appearance and performance but that's usually how it goes with Janney. She always delivers. Margo Robbie is incredible as usual and dives so deep into character that at points you forget she isn't Tonya Harding. The same can be said for Sebastian Stan, who is not my favorite actor by any means but made me reevaluate my feelings toward him after this movie. Everyone does a truly stellar job and we can expect to hear their names announced as nominees at the end of this month.
In closing, I'd like to point out that this movie stars Harley Quinn and the Winter Soldier and is written by Captain America. Can't we get away from super hero movies?!?!?
In all seriousness, go see I, Tonya. You will not be sorry.