I finally saw “I, Tonya” last night. The movie — about Tonya Harding, the skater on the other side of Nancy Kerrigan’s infamous knee-wacking in 1994 — is already winning big during awards season and has several Oscar nominations.
I generally struggle with on-screen portrayals of figure skating, because filmmakers so rarely get it right. Anybody else remember the scene in “Ice Princess” where a character drives a zamboni through the woods to smooth the ice surface of a pond? As if the ice could take the weight of a zamboni…if it even still worked after driving through the woods.
“I, Tonya” got a few skating quirks right. Some humorous, like Harding’s coach donning a fur coat at competitions as a status symbol, which had me cracking up in the theater. My first coach always pulled out her fabulous fur for my competitions, too. Harding’s costume recreations were also impeccable. The skating scenes, while shot at camera angles that made me rather dizzy, were largely accurate in terms of jump set ups and how skating actually looks — there were no gravity-defying “iron lotus” moves like in “Blades of Glory.”
And the actors’ performances were phenomenal. Allison Janney is a force to be reckoned with as Harding’s abusive mother, and Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harding is uncanny. My issues with the movie lie with the screenwriters and filmmakers.