Cert 15 119mins Stars 4
This sharp and alarmingly funny real life ice skating drama scores highly for artistic interpretation and technical accomplishment.
Aussie actress Margot Robbie has been deservedly Oscar nominated for her unruly, sympathetic and physically demanding performance as disgraced skater Tonya Harding.
The 23 year old Olympian became infamous in 1994 when her rival Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a steel baton.
Blisteringly bracing and based on interviews with the key players of Team Harding, this is a very knowing tale of denial, delusion, snobbery and celebrity. Kerrigan’s voice isn’t heard.
We hear Harding’s story via Robbie’s brash turn as the first woman to perform the notoriously difficult triple salchow in competition.
A redneck prodigy, she grows up an unrepentant, athletic and brazen success. With her bad hair colour, tiny outfits and being forced to try to act posh to succeed, she’s basically all five Spice girls rolled into one. But with Olympic talent.
Fellow Oscar nominee Alison Janney won best supporting actress BAFTA as her chain smoking, foul mouthed domineering parent. She’s the most terrifying mother in cinema since Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Best known as Marvel’s Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan plays Harding’s husband Jeff as a violent and emotionally abusive idiot.
Both deny culpability in the unforgivable assault on Kerrigan which is referred to as ‘the incident’. We see it executed with extraordinary ineptitude by a third party.
Though the graphic domestic violence is condemned, the film’s raucous tone makes it bearable to watch and also highlights the mostly male stupidity on show.
Robbie uses her power as the film’s producer to craft a film which never preaches but lifts the lid on sporting concerns. These include the partiality of competition judges, abuse of aspiring stars, and the crossover between the media, corporate sponsorship and success.
With the world’s eye on the Winter Olympics, Tonya’s cautionary tale is as well timed as her dazzling routines.