Library to Screen Oscar-Winner ‘I, Tonya’

By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter

Continuing the Saturday Movie Matinee series at Palisades Branch Library, the award-winning biographical film “I, Tonya” will screen at 1 p.m. on May 12.

This film is directed by Australian veteran Craig Gillespie and written with a comedic touch by American screenwriter Steven Rogers. It tells the incredible story of Tonya Harding, the figure skater who was implicated in the vicious assault with a police baton on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit.

While Kerrigan recovered, going on to win another Olympic medal, Harding was reviled. This film, she hoped, would paint her in more sympathetic light. The jury is still out on that. She was stripped of her National Championship title and banned from participating as a skater or coach in any U.S. Figure Skating event for the rest of her life.

Margot Robbie portrays Harding in the film, battling Allison Janney as her hard-edged mother, LaVona Golden. During the 2018 award season for “I, Tonya,” both actresses were nominated for Academy Awards. Janney took home the statue while Robbie lost out to the unstoppable Frances McDormand.

At the time these events transpired, the public wasn’t given a very nuanced version of what happened, and this film takes into account multiple perspectives from those close to the source. One of the most interesting characters is Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, who arranged the attack on Kerrigan. Because his actions were so devastating to Harding’s professional life, he refused to take any money for his life rights or the critical interviews he provided for the film.

Critics said there are times “I, Tonya” skates on thin ice, especially in its portrayals of working class life, but even today that triple axel amazes.