AFI FILM FEST 2017: I, Tonya

 

In 1991, Tonya Harding was on top of the world!  Holding titles as the 1991 U.S. Women’s Figure Skating Champion and 1991 World Championship Silver medallist. Harding was also a two-time Olympian and a two-time Skate America Champion.  Her achievements in the Women’s Figure Skating history books would simultaneously disappear over one incident in 1994.  How can any of us forget that footage of Silver Medalist Nancy Kerrigan at the Olympic Games crying out in pain “Why?’ over and over again after being cracked in the knee.  I don’t know about you, but I always wondered why that happened and what were the events leading up to it.

I, Tonya is a kitchy, yet dramatic recollection aka mockumentary style of those events and the life of Tonya Harding.  Having been abused by her alcoholic mother and first husband, the ice was the only place she felt safe and loved.

Knowingly not a fan of the Ice Skating Federation judges, Harding (Margot Robbie) and hubby cooked up a scheme to intimidate and get into the head of Kerrigan before  the Lillihamer games.  Instead, what transpired was a faux-pas of epic proportions when Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) employed his friend and bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) to send some letters.  Shawn decided this was his moment to make a name for himself and took it step further ruining everyone’s lives and careers in the process.

As wonderful as Margot Robbie is as Tonya Harding, it is Allison Janney who steals this film as Harding’s villainous mother LaVonna Golden.  Baby, when I tell you that this doll is a piece a work and it’s a miracle that Tonya Harding got anywhere near a medal… I do not exaggerate.  Golden is a huge departure from the mother we see even week on the hit CBS sitcom MOM, as well as, Janney’s other roles on the big and small screen.  Don’t be surprised to hear her name among the nominees for the little gold bar dude this year.

A applaud Director Craig Gillespie for taking such sensitive subjects as domestic violence, brutality and mental cruelest comical.  For it is through the comedy, we see the real pain, emotional scars and ever lasting consequences these actions have other subjects.  It kinda reminds me of a a while back starring Nicole Kidman called To Die For, which was absolutely hysterical in a dark kinda way.

I. Tonya hits theaters on December 8th and I wouldn’t miss this one if I were you…

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