In 1994, US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by an assailant in the Cobo Arena, Detroit. Her leg was injured, putting her in doubt for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. This turned out to be the reason for the attack which was planned by another US skater and Kerrigan’s rival, Tonya Harding.
The so called “Whack Attack” became a story that wouldn’t quit. The details were easy to sensationalise, especially as the clubbing of Kerrigan’s right knee with a police baton, was done by Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. The moment became a tonight show punchline and a key event in the fusing of celebrity scandal and news into that addictive, money-making sideshow called “infotainment”. Later that year, the OJ Simpson case would take this kind of pop cultural circus into never-before-seen levels of popularity.
And now, nearly 25 years have passed, it’s time for a film about the attack and what it meant. There have been telemovies, but I, TONYA seems to be looking at the case with a more critical eye. As with the recent BATTLE OF THE SEXES, it appears the examination of professional sports and its impact on culture is set to become a cinematic fad here in the late teens of the 21st century.
I,TONYA stars Australia’s own Margot Robbie in the Harding role and the choice looks to be a smart change of pace for the actress. Alison Janney plays Harding’s mother Lavona Golden and has also received raves for her performance. Sebastian Stan plays Jeff Gillooly. The director is Craig Gillespie of LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007)
The movie has competed in the Indie Festival circuit and generated a strong level of buzz for its US mainstream release in December. Other territories to follow from February 2018. The shorty “teaser” trailer is below. AccessReel will run the full trailer when it arrives.