Dir. Craig Gillespie
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate.”
Get your skates on for a winning ice-skate-em-up which delves behinds the scenes of one of the most notorious incidents in sporting history. Olympic U.S. ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) became infamous for supposedly having her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked back in 1994. I Tonya gives a fascinating, darkly amusing and engaging insight into the lives of Harding and those around her in the lead up to the attack and details the fallout afterwards too.
You really don’t need to be an ice skating fan to enjoy the mockumentary style director Craig ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ Gillespie has employed. The story crackles with memorable dialogue and winning scenes that satires the media hungry response and the personal implosion that wrecked Harding’s career.
Driven from an early age...
The Kerrigan-Harding affair is presented with much speculation and many possibly inaccurate recollections. Kicking off with a young Tonya (played by Mckenna Grace) who yearns to be an ice skater – if only as a distraction from her painful broken home life. Her mother is the abusive, totally driven LaVona Goldman (Allison Janney – who just won a Bafta for her role), she might not like Tonya skating but also doesn’t want her to be anything but the best.
By the time Margot Robbie takes over as Harding, her talent is getting her into competitions but because of her poor redneck background which means she must make her own costumes the snobby judges won’t acknowledge her skills.
Janney channelling the wicked witch of the west
Everything changes when Harding becomes the first American woman to land a triple axel and her star finally begins to rise. But at the same time things begin to fall apart as her stupid, controlling boyfriend / husband and his even more idiotic friend make plans to intimidate her competition.
The film makes Harding out to have a heart and shows her as actually a sort of a victim of her circumstances. I came away with much more respect and it will certainly make you consider the situation she found herself in, her terrible life and the ongoing repercussions from the Kerrigan attack.
You'll believe woman can fly...
Robbie is superb as Harding, making what could have been a boo hiss villain into a flawed human worth taking time to understand. Her mother however is portrayed as just evil and as for the men in her life, they are entirely bad news.
In the end I Tonya shows that you may not need to have class when you have talent but escaping your environment is another story.
The law closes in
Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4.5 - This isn't Disney on ice...)
Awesomeness öööö – Engaging and challenging
Laughs öööö – Very funny and quite wrong
Horror ööö – Some nasty domestic violence
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Talent can liberate the soul