|Release Date:||December 10, 2017|
|Review Date:||December 23, 2017|
Tremendous. Exceptional. Spellbinding.
I, Tonya is a tragedy of Greek and epic proportions that explores questions like, "What's left without hope?" "Can a relational wound close without apologies?" "What's justice, anyway?" "Does a famous, crashed-and-burned public life deserve a second chance?"
Like most everyone my age, I vividly remember Tonya Harding's spectacular rise and disgraceful fall, and watching her non-apologies on shows like Hard Copy and Dateline, followed by spoofs on SNL, and eventually wincing while she boxed in casinos on Indian reservations. It was a brutal free fall and demise and, frankly, one that sorta seems to limp along like a three-legged dog.
She has really struggled to present and represent herself well in the public eye, and though I know [true, ultimate, eternal] redemption exists for all, when she was stripped of the opportunity to "ever skate again, banned for life," her purpose... vocation... skill-set... evaporated. Having never completed high school nor earning her GED, this former #1 World Figure Skater now.... Well, I'll leave the movie to answer that question for you.
I left the theater feeling a tremendous amount of empathy. Empathy that, quite frankly, I had not felt toward her before.
It's been nearly a quarter century since "the incident," and yet many of us still hold Harding in contempt.
Having those old biases laid bare through what sometimes feels like cinéma vérité is rather humbling, to say the least. At times, I felt outright exposed, guilty, ashamed, and heartbroken for having judged her so harshly.
I suspect you may, too.
As far as I'm concerned, I, Tonya should be among the top ten Oscar contenders for 2017.
If that's not a beautiful second half, re-casting, or fresh start at public redemption, I don't know what is.
Go see it, and love her for surviving her many wounds, be they self-inflicted or wrought by a judgmental world.
Either way, you'll be made the better for it—more forgiving—and I can think of nothing finer.