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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