I, Tonya

Can’t fault this movie for storytelling or acting. Margo Robbie is flawless as the troubled, abused, rough-as-guts champion figure-skater Tonya Harding, who may or may not have known about or even been part of the 1994 plot to disable her rival Nancy Kerrigan by getting some bonehead thug to whack her in the knees and disable her in the run-up to the Olympics.

This re-interpretation of the story gives Harding the benefit of the doubt, which is fair enough, and focuses attention on her sad upbringing as much as on her prodigious talent and fierce determination to succeed, which is also fair enough.

I’m a bit troubled by some post-film commentary that paints Harding almost as a new feminist heroine, as if the vicious attack on Kerrigan didn’t matter because she was an American sweetheart type while Harding was a victim of both child abuse and domestic violence. The backstory might explain Harding’s self-destructive behaviour and bad-ass attitude but it doesn’t remotely excuse the crime against the blameless Kerrigan. In the end this is a human tragedy, and to do justice to it requires more than a socio-political analysis. Fortunately the filmmakers know this and get the tone just right. Five stars from me.