I, Tonya

This is one of the better films I've seen this year. The numerous awards (and nominations) are richly deserved. I don't think I have ever seen a clearer depiction of what "being from the wrong side of the tracks" means, both personally and professionally. I realize Hollywood has added some of its own interpretation but if ice skater Tonya Harding describes herself as "trailer trash," what can I say? (The judges say she isn't a "wholesome American.")

The quasi-documentary style adopted by director Craig Gillespie ("The Finest Hours") works perfectly to convey the people behind the headlines when Nancy Kerrigan was kneecapped before she could compete against Tonya Harding.  Based on Steven Rogers' ("Love the Coopers") script, we see what a demeaning, humiliating, life our would-be champion had to endure.

Part of Gillespie's cast:
  • Margot Robbie ("Suicide Squad") Tonya has the mother from hell, soon replaced by a husband who knocks her around and then claims that she made him do it. We were lucky when this Aussie decided to seek her fortune in Hollywood.
  • Alison Janney ("Mom") LaVona Golden is demanding, insulting and foul-mouthed; this chain-smoking harpy never has a kind word of support or affection for her hard-working daughter. This is the role of a lifetime for award-winning actress Janney.
  • Sebastian Stan ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier") Jeff Gillooly is a study in frustration. His self-imposed limitations serve only to justify his misbehavior and poor choices. (Gillooly has since changed his name.)
  • Paul Walker Hauser ("Superstore") Shawn is Tonya's gluttonous bodyguard. The only thing bigger than his torso is his ego.
  • Julianne Nicholson ("Law & Order") Diane Rawlinson is the coach every girl should have, she is soft spoken, kind, and supportive.
  • Bobby Cannavele ("Will & Grace") Martin Maddox is the Hard Copy reporter who tells it exactly as it is. His description of the perpetrators is perfect.
  • Mckenna Grace ("Gifted") Young Tonya begs her father to take her with him when he leaves her mother. That wrenching scene is a heart breaker.
Even though I was familiar with the headlines, I discovered I was a bit fuzzy on Harding's life both before and after "The Incident." They do us a favor and show her amazing triple axel in slow motion. She was the first female skater to successfully perform this demanding routine in competition.

The R rating is richly deserved because our resident rednecks (from a suburb outside of Portland, Oregon) lob F-bombs at each other without hesitation. They are violent and abusive, both verbally and physically. I found myself embracing The Mamas and the Papas' "Dream a Little Dream" simply for the change of pace.

Be sure to stay through the closing credits because they show us the real Tonya Harding in action! She is amazing!
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