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For all of its broad humor — especially when it comes to Eckhardt — this biopic ultimately restores a measure of dignity to its characters, even the awful ones.
Each of these people gets a chance to state their peace, and they’re joined by an eccentric supporting cast of caricatures that includes Jeff’s supremely dumb best friend (Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt), Tonya’s very presentable skating coach (Julianne Nicholson as Diane Rawlinson), and the former “Hard Copy” reporter who helped turn Tanya’s story into a national pile-on (Bobby Cannavale, whose hair alone helps to cement the movie’s comedic tone).
It’s a bold move for Steven Rogers to start off by making fun of his subjects, and at times it feels too much like shooting fish in a barrel, but the movie soon begins to complicate and challenge its privileged understanding of these bonafide Americans.
Like its namesake, the film only achieves greatness for a few brief moments, and the best things about it (e.g.
Janney’s character) are seldom allowed to expand beyond the stereotypes that make them so easy to understand, but Gillespie’s biopic sticks the landing because it never forgets one of its very first lines: Tonya Harding is America, and she always has been.
And that was her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Gillooly, hired an associate to bash in Nancy Kerrigan’s knee in an attempt to prevent Kerrigan from competing in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
(Kerrigan recovered and won the silver medal.) As a song, “Tonya Harding” sounds more like a cheeky but sincere lullaby than anything else, with Stevens softly crooning lines like, “Well this world is a bitch, girl / Don’t end up in a ditch, girl” over a quiet synth track.
“In the face of outrage and defeat, Tonya bolstered shameless resolve and succeeded again and again with all manners of re-invention and self-determination,” Stevens writes.
“Tonya shines bright in the pantheon of American history simply because she never stopped trying her hardest.
Remembered for her highly contested role in attacking rival figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (when she’s remembered at all), Harding was one of the greatest villains the ’90s ever produced, up there with O. Simpson, the T-1000, and the guy who invented Crystal Pepsi.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating