From the Aisle Seat – I, Tonya

I, TONYA, tells the story of the much-maligned Tonya Harding. She was the blue- collar skater, proudly displaying her lack of social graces as she competed against a world of fairy tale princesses for worldwide prominence. Instead of choosing classical pieces to highlight her routines, she used ZZ Top.

There was a time when Ms. Harding was possibly the best figure skater in the world, the first American skater to land the unbelievably difficult triple axel in competition. Sadly, she will only be remembered for her rough edges and being banned from the sport because of her husband’s boneheaded plot to take out her greatest competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, with a baton to the knee before Olympic competition.

The director, Craig Gillespie, tells her story sympathetically, filled with dark humor as he highlights the class warfare in Ms. Harding’s struggle. Margot Robbie, in another great performance, plays Tonya Harding with all the sass, talent and lack of a pristine image that plagued Tonya Harding.  The biggest villain possibly is Ms. Harding’s hard-driving, chain-smoking mother LaVona. Alison Janney, who won a Golden Globe for her performance, plays her superbly. Even though the real LaVona Harding claims she is nothing like the woman portrayed by Ms. Janney on screen, this is one mother character you will never forget.

Mike Marchak
Kalamazoo Film Society President

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