I, Tonya tells the life story of Tonya Harding, the ex-figure skater and accused mastermind behind the plot to attack Nancy Kerrigan. The film is one of the best of the year — a documentary-style satire that Christopher Guest is likely nodding at. Like Guest's films, I, Tonya uses interviews with insane characters to tell a hilarious story about something you'd never think is true. Except with I, Tonya, it is.
On January 6, 1994 at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Nancy Kerrigan, the United States' best hope for a gold medal in figure skating at the upcoming Winter Olympics, all 5'4" of her, was clubbed on the knee by a "hitman" named Shane Stant as she left practice.
As the movie details, the incident was traced back to Jeff Gillooly, Harding's Dickensian husband. The film also details Harding's steadfast denials of being involved. Her story is she and Gillooly were planning to mail a letter to Kerrigan to scare her, but Gillooly and his partner in crime, Shawn Eckardt, took things too far.
Harding has always professed her innocence, but her complicity, on some level, is pretty obvious. Kerrigan, who's played by Caitlin Carver in the movie, has always taken the high road when asked about the incident. The unprecedented attack, in figure skating of all sports, is something out of bad fiction. It made both Harding and Kerrigan world-famous before they even stepped on the ice at the Olympics in 1994. Their names are etched into the history books together, forever, whether Kerrigan likes it or not. (ABC ran a two-hour special about Harding and Kerrigan just last night.)
Now, 24 years after the attack, Kerrigan has seen all the old news back and trending thanks to I, Tonya. The movie is an Oscar contender and Harding just enjoyed a night out at the Golden Globes this past weekend. (Allison Janney, who's frightening as Tonya's abusive mother in the film, took home Best Supporting Actress, and Margot Robbie, who plays Harding, was nominated for Best Actress.) You'll probably see Tonya at the Oscars also.
Recently, Kerrigan was contacted by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy for her reaction to the film and the renewed interest in the '94 attack. "I really have nothing to say about it. I haven't seen it. I haven't watched anything."
"I've been busy. I was at the national figure skating championships this week so I didn't watch the Golden Globes. I haven't seen the movie. I'm just busy living my life."
Shaughnessy then asked her about Harding and her so-called "redemption tour," as he puts it. Was she bothered by Robbie's satirical, but sympathetic, portrayal of Tonya?
"I don't know." Harding told him. " At this point, it's so much easier and better to just be... it's not really a part of my life. As you say, I was the victim. Like, that's my role in this thing. That's it."
She then added, "It is weird, that's for sure. A bizarre thing. The whole thing was crazy, being that it's a story. I mean, come on."
"Bizarre" is definitely the right word. Kerrigan is taking the high road once more, as she's always done since the attack. But, you can sense the tension in her words. Whether you believe she's paid attention to I, Tonya or not, it's hard not to imagine her wondering why someone doesn't make a movie about her life. She was the victim who went on to Olympic silver. Where's I, Nancy?