“There’s no such thing as truth. Everyone has their own truth, and life just does whatever it wants.”
This stand-out line in “I, Tonya” captures the essence of the film as it dives into the background of Tonya Harding’s upbringing, offering a more sympathetic understanding of Harding’s side of the infamous figure skating scandal of 1994.
“I, Tonya” hit theaters nationwide on Jan. 19.
The film shows Harding’s world as she grows up and suffers from emotional and physical abuse from her overbearing mother (Allison Janney), while struggling to fit into the U.S. standard of beauty and wealth for figure skating.
Movie-goer and film enthusiast Donna Matias saw “I, Tonya” on its opening date.
"In this movie, she comes across as a broken child still trying to survive in a world that feels like it is against her,” Matias said. “Yes, she's rough around the edges, but after seeing where she came from, you understand why. The acting in this movie is absolutely superb.”
The depiction of abuse in the film is crucial in portraying Harding’s character as someone more than just a tabloid scandal. It helps the viewer better understand the elements that lead to the incident.
After growing up around verbal and physical abuse, Harding was eventually able to forgive and accept it in her life. That said, the movie does not gloss over scenes of abuse. An especially difficult scene to watch is one in which her mother throws a glass at her, followed by a knife which pierces her arm.
However, the movie does not focus strictly on the negatives. The film also puts focus on Harding’s accomplishments as a skater, especially on the feat of being the first American woman to complete a triple axle.
Harding is a complex character whose motivation and ambition are better understood through experiencing a thorough look at the tragedy and challenges in her life— from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood.
In addition, the film takes a critical look into the role American beauty standards and classiest views play on the fairness of skating competition.
Women’s studies ISU graduate Nicolle Littrell said, “I completely loved ‘I Tonya.’… It highlights Hollywood’s problem in dealing with women who do not fit the dominant beauty standard.”
A notable aspect about the film is its effective use of interview-style story telling, offering differing points of view on the drama that unfolds. Not only did this offer serious investigative moments, but it provides funny moments as well.
These recreated interviews are with those closest to Harding, including her mother, her skating coach, her ex-husband and her bodyguard (Paul Walter Hauser).
All and all, Robbie, Janney, and Stan deliver unforgettable performances, of which landed Robbie an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Overall, the movie is a 4.5 out of 5. In addition to the phenomenal acting, “I, Tonya” succeeds in challenging the viewer to question the meaning of truth and to look at Tonya Harding as a complex character and more than a tabloid scandal.