There was a certain time in recent history when that name was inescapable – it would seem inevitable that a movie would be made about the talented American figure skater’s incident.
The incident, of course, was the shocking attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, who was kneecapped ahead of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994. Harding was implicated, via her husband, in the attack and reviled by the public.
Now, 24 years after the attack, the world can see the other side of the story in I, Tonya.
The fantastic film details Harding’s life up to and after the incident, a life that is filled with violence, competitiveness and misfortune.
A preternaturally gifted skater from birth, Harding was pushed into competition by her brash, abusive mother LaVona.
Australia’s Margot Robbie, also a producer, plays Harding outstandingly, delivering what is easily the best performance of her already very strong career. She thoroughly deserves her Oscar nomination, though she has strong competition for the win from Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water).
More likely to win the supporting actress Oscar, however, is Allison Janney, playing Harding’s mother.
She is an absolute powerhouse as the foul-mouthed, crude, unapologetic LaVona – you can tell from the moment she appears on screen that you’re in for a career-defining performance.
I, Tonya, directed by Aussie Craig Gillespie, features some incredible skating and it’s practically impossible to tell what was achieved in real-life by Robbie, what was performed by stunt doubles and what was created with visual effects.
Some of the violence perpetrated on Harding by her mother and husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) is quite graphic and unexpected for what is essentially a comedy.
But overall, I, Tonya is a great watch. It paints Harding in a sympathetic light, but also shows her as someone unwilling to take responsibility for anything.
The mockumentary style of filmmaking might be a little strange for some viewers, but it shouldn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.