I just came back from a preview screening of 'I, Tonya', the film about the Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, who, in 1994, was involved in a plot to harm her biggest rival, Nancy Kerrigan. I was only 10 years old back then but I remember the news headlines very well. I was a massive figure skating fan (I still am, hence the pirouette challenge) and together with my grandma I used to be glued to the telly when the skating was on.
Probably like most people, I saw Tonya as the bad girl and Nancy the pretty one who couldn't do no wrong. Over the last few days, I've watched several documentaries and interviews with Tonya. Have to admit, she is surprisingly likeable. Yes, she's rugged, foul-mouthed and definitely not wholesome like the usual American sweetheart, nonetheless very approachable. She's also charismatic, ballsy and above all, she loved ice-skating and did everything to be the best. Whether she knew or not about the plan to hurt Nancy, hard to say. Everyone has their version of the story, which the film does justice, and only Tonya knows the truth. Or Margot Robbie, who's brilliant in the part, says 'everyone has their own truth, this one is mine'.
Too late now, but if she had a supportive team around her most probably none of this would have happened. Instead, Tonya was stuck in a vile environment with an abusive mother (well, you can call it tough love, but it surely wasn't a healthy relationship) and then a destructive marriage. Not an excuse again, but it does makes things more complex than they seem at first. Nonetheless, she still manages to rise through the ranks to the very top and maybe she would have been an Olympic champ if not for the endless obstacles. Maybe.
Tonya inspires with her strength, passion and the never-give-up attitude. Always standing out from the other skaters in the way she looked, spoke or even the music she chose for her routines. She says 'I was the best, at one time' and the first American woman to land the the triple Axel, the hardest jump in female figure skating. Only 6 women in the world have ever done it to this day. And frankly, we've forgotten all about this after she got tagged as the villain.
This film sheds a much more positive light on her story. Alison Janney, who plays Tonya's mother in the film, says in one of her interviews 'you just want to give her a hug' and that's exactly what I felt at the end. The film is coming out in the UK in February, just before the Oscars, and is well worth the £10 ticket. Whether you like ice-skating or not.