Retelling the myth of Tonya Harding


THE story of Tonya Harding’s rise and fall is sporting legend. One of the top female figure skaters in America, her career and her reputation was destroyed when she was implicated in a plot to assault her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, shortly before the 1994 Winter Olympics. The attack—a police baton to the knee after a training session—was orchestrated by her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and his friend Shawn Eckhardt, but Ms Harding admitted to having full knowledge of the scheme. Some suggested that she may have even been the mastermind of it.

So few people who set out to see “I, Tonya” will begin with a sympathetic view of its subject. Even fewer will leave the film with that view unchanged, or at least muddled. The thrilling and unsettling biopic from Craig Gillespie seeks to reclaim the legacy of a woman whose story, it argues, was written in error. It depicts her not as an aggressor, but as a lifelong victim—of domestic violence; of mocking by her peers and by the skating community for her humble origins; and of the press,…Continue reading

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Redeeming Mary Magdalene

EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events …

The mysterious reggaeton bangers of Mexico’s election

FOR evidence that modern democracy has lost its pep, look back to the age of cheery campaign jingles. The art form dominated elections from America to the Philippines after the second world war. Australian political parties used them well into the 1980s. It is tempting to believe that melodious campaigns …

The maddest March: at last, a 16-seed upsets a number one

THE line separating the improbable from the impossible is hard to pin down. The annual single-elimination tournament to crown the champion of North America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in men’s basketball is known as “March Madness”, thanks to the steady diet of upsets it produces. Every year, a few …