Crying in Public

[From Christ and Pop Culture]

Let’s get one thing straight: Tonya Harding is not an appealing protagonist. In the movie I, Tonya, Tonya (played by Margot Robbie in an Oscar-nominated turn) does the audience a favor by acknowledging this point before we have a chance to. With an undertone of hostility, she speaks directly into the camera—her bleached hair pulled back from her face, revealing a fringe of bangs expertly curled into a single roll. This is present-day Tonya, the Tonya of a few extra pounds, clad in denim, sitting in her remarkably unglamorous kitchen. In the background, her counter is cluttered with dirty dishes. A cigarette hangs from her fingers as she addresses the audience.

Tonya narrates her life, telling us what’s happened to her—re-created in a series of pitch-perfect period scenes—in all the years leading up to 1994 (as well as all the years since). This period includes her all-too-brief salad days, in which she is the Best Female Ice Skater in the World, and is immediately followed by her wilderness years. Her time in the desert, in which no ice exists.

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