Craig Gillespie paints a sad and revealing portrait of the infamous American competitive ice skater Tonya Harding. A star in the making, and possibly the best female skater who has ever lived, she crashed and burned in the most spectacular and public way possible in 1994, just months before OJ had his own little outburst. The most impressive aspect of this film, however, is not the tragedy itself, but the humor Gillespie uses in capturing the personalities of the key players.
Based on interviews conducted more than a decade after the incident, the story weaves back and forth between the character’s explanation of what happened with their own personal bias perspective and what actually happened. Margot Robbie delivers her most provocative and convincing performance to date, demonstrating a range that I did not know she was capable of. She truly became the extremely talented redneck hick that is Tonya Harding.
What was refreshing about film was the sympathy Gillespie obviously has for this poor woman. She was the most hated person in American, and possibly even the world, when news broke that her husband hired hit-men to break Nancy Kerrigan’s knee before the Olympics. Instead of portraying her as the evil, white trash villain that she was perceived to be in the ‘90s, Gillespie shows a woman who just wanted to compete. A woman who was oblivious to the stupidity of her husband and his friends, simply because she surrounded by that exact same brand of stupidity her entire life.
The cinematography was exciting and straight to the point. The only time Gillespie got theatrical was when Tonya was on the ice. Everything else was done with absolute realism. This contrast highlighted just how magical Tonya’s performances really were. This is a must see and rightly deserves 8 out of 10 stars.