I, Tonya is the tragicomic, mostly, sorta true story of the rise and fall of an American woman and Olympic figure skater who has it all, then loses it, due to circumstances both within and beyond her control. It tells a timeless story of love, loss, ambition, rivalry, greed, classism, misogyny and sheer stupidity. Though the stupidity is mostly on the part of the skater’s male associates, most of the negative consequences for that stupidity fall onto her. That’s the timeless part of the story, as blaming the woman for everyone else’s mistakes is a cultural tradition that goes all the way back to the bible.
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was four years old when her mother, LaVona (Alison Janney) hired her first skating coach, Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson), and began pressuring her to excel at the sport. Her mother verbally and physically abused her throughout her childhood and forced her to focus on figure skating as the most important aspect of her life, more important, even, than her education. Tonya spent most of her time training, despite how difficult the family’s poverty made it for them to continue to afford her skating career.
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