Francis Ford Coppola says he tries to come up with the central theme of his movies in one word, e.g., The Godfather = Succession, The Conversation = Privacy, Apocalypse Now = Morality.

In that spirit, here is my one-word take on the central theme of I, Tonya:

Obsession.

Almost every character in the script suffers from some kind of personal obsession.

Tonya’s obsession with winning the Olympic gold.

Lavona is obsessed with Tonya winning as a means of experiencing glory vicariously through her daughter.

Jeff is obsessed with Tonya.

Shawn is obsessed with being perceived as a covert operative.

There is a common thread to the specific tone of their personal obsessions and that’s this: Grounded in their collective experience of being born and living on the ‘wrong side’ of the tracks. Poor. White. Trash. If they can succeed in achieving their high arching goals, that can separate them from their core reality and prove to themselves and the world they are better than their ‘raising’.

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