I, Tonya (2017) concludes my movie viewing before the Team Ruthless Oscar article. This was a very good movie with terrific acting. I also conclude that the characters portrayed within this film are a somber portrait of why we have Donald Trump as President. I, Tonya is a hybrid of a documentary, a dark comedy, a mockumentary, and a Coen Brother’s film. The circumstances that invoked this tragedy are ample evidence of why you should pick your parents and spouses wisely.
I, Tonya was an undertaking by Craig Gillespie that utilized re-created interviews, along with a timeline of Tonya Harding’s life. When I stated above that it was a tragedy, I really should have written that it was a horror story of abuse. Tonya Harding was hard core. I mean, she would shoot out a rabbit’s eye to not spoil the meat, but no one in the history of cinema got smacked around more by those who “loved” her. Tonya accepted this abuse because she thought she deserved it.
Tonya’s mother was not a mere Tiger Mom of ice skating, but something much, much worse. Allison Janney gave a chilling performance. Remember the old saying of someone not having a mean bone in their body? Well LaVana Golden was just the opposite. She did not have a good, caring, or an empathetic molecule in her existence. She lived for misery and the misery of all in her sphere of influence. Her “sacrifice” for Tonya’s skating career was nothing of the sort. It was her investment in making sure that everyone else was as miserable as she was, nothing else.
It was irrelevant how well Tonya did or what she achieved. All that mattered to Momma was how much Tonya was reminded of LaVana’s sacrifices. Tonya Harding was driven by her mother’s insistence of her self-loathing. This was very, very ugly stuff. Allison Janney portrayed one of the worst villains you can possibly imagine. There was never any deviation from her character. She was as evil as it gets.
As you might imagine, things got worse as Tonya picked a husband who would take up where the mother left off. Sebastian Stan was Jeff Gillooly, a smooth-talking, but hard-hitting creep. He was the spouse that Tonya could not stay away from, no matter how many black eyes and bloody lips he inflicted on her. During all this chaos, her career progressed, and in spite of her superior skills, there was something missing. Her scores always reflected her heritage. She was simply not the Princess the skating community was looking for, in spite of her accomplishing the triple axel.
What happened for the balance of the movie was the untold story of what led up to the Nancy Kerrigan incident. If you think you have ever seen misguided incompetence in the commission of a crime before, you haven’t seen I, Tonya. Tonya’s abusive husband decided to retaliate for a death threat that Tonya received and engaged his friend Shawn to orchestrate the intimidation.
Shawn, played brilliantly by Paul Walter Hauser was an obese loser with an eating disorder who literally lived in his mom’s basement. This creep had delusions of being some sort of Special Ops and Bodyguard and elevated what was supposed to be only a threatening letter to an actual assault. The boobs he recruited for the job were barely sentient. The rest is history and Tonya, by her mere association with her husband and creepy friends, took the fall for an ugly incident that she neither sanctioned or knew about.
I will freely admit that I, like millions of other Americans, just assumed that Tonya Harding ordered the hit on Nancy Kerrigan. This unique film magnified this slice of ice-skating history with top notch acting and scathing dialogue. There was no sympathy for Tonya Harding even though there was no evidence that she did anything but associate with a special class of idiots. Her punishment and banishment from skating was beyond injustice, but there was absolutely no sympathetic ear of public opinion. It was all against her. I, Tonya was one of the most entertaining films of the year and both Margo Robbie and Allison Janney have been nominated for Academy awards. My only minor criticism is that the soundtrack was over the top at times, but it still enhanced this great film.
Quotes and One-liners:
- “America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate -Tonya Harding
- “I didn’t swear, you cunt” -LaVona Golden
- “Suck my dick!” -Tonya Harding (to a judge)
- “I was loved for a minute, then I was hated. Then I was just a punch line.” -Tonya Harding
- “You skated like a graceless bull-dyke, I was embarrassed for you.” LaVona Golden
- “You’re going to need to even the playing field. I know a guy, I shouldn’t even be saying his name. Derek. -Shawn (to Jeff)
- “So, have you two fucked yet?” -LaVona Golden ( to Tonya and Jeff on their first date)
- “Look, Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world shits… For me it was an all-the-time occurrence. ” -Tonya Harding
- “You fuck dumb. You don’t marry dumb.” -LaVona Golden