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The 60-second verdict: I,Tonya

The 60-second verdict: I,Tonya

The 60-second verdict: I,Tonya

10 February 2018

Australian Actress Margot Robbie plays US Ice Skater Tonya Harding in this fascinating biopic.

By Mark Hadley

Ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was the first American woman to complete the triple axel during competition. She also was embroiled in an enormous scandal involving the attack upon her “rival”, Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. Through interviews with Harding, her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan), mum LaVona (Allison Janney) and others, Harding’s life story is told.


Australian actress Margot Robbie has been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. Robbie goes full “trailer trash” as proud redneck Harding, and she injects the righ tamount of sympathy and suspicion in the infamous ice skater. Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney also are spot on as Harding’s abusive husband and mother. In particular, Janney is a tornado of insults, resentment, aggression and warped parenting. As these key characters tell their version of events, I, Tonya makes shrewd use of the way that people can shape the truth to what they want it to be.


I, Tonya is chockers with bad language and physical abuse. Would have been difficult to tell Harding’s story in any other way but the tirade of swearing and violence is offputting (which, you know, it’s meant to be). Harding and co. are also hard to warm to, and the shifting perspectives which tell her tale can cause the storytelling to slow down, meander or go firmly off the rails. Plus, if you don’t know anything about the Nancy Kerrigan “incident”, you will struggle early on to keep up with what I, Tonya is subtly headed towards.


The conflicting perspectives in I, Tonya make it a memorable presentation of how people can treat the truth. Tonya, Jeff and LaVona (and others) often have the same summary of events but, time and again, they significantly disagree about motives, specific actions and the eventual outcomes. While it makes sense that individual perspectives and motivations cloud the way that any of us view events, I, Tonya seems to encourage us to accept that as being the best version of truth that we can find. But is that the truest truth we can hope for? I, Tonya is a timely biopic for a world that steadily fragments truth and its value – because its portrait of conflicting “truth” should ignite in us that yearning we have for the truth to be just that. Whether we try to banish it or embrace it, we all want the truth. We just need to know where to find it.

I, Tonya is rated MA15+ for strong coarse language and a sex scene.


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