Christine: LFF Film Review

christine

I love films which shine a light on incredible stories that you would simply not believe were true because they are so remarkable or insane. Christine is one of those tales, which tell us all about Christine Chubbuck, a 29-year-old news reporter who shot herself in the head during a live TV broadcast in 1974. How has this story not been told onscreen before?!

Rebecca Hall plays Christine, a reporter at a local news station in Sarasota, Florida who is constantly brushing up against her boss Mike (Tracy Letts) because he wants “blood and guts” reporting to boost ratings but she prefers human interest, character-driven pieces. The possibility of a promotion to Baltimore stresses Christine out and she thinks this is the cause for her painful stomachaches. She suffers from depression (although this word is never used), lives with her mum, is still a virgin, and has no friends because she rebuffs any offers for hanging out.

Christine is a hard character to get behind because she’s so stressed, difficult and unfriendly most the time, she lashes out at people for no reason and although she seems sad, you would never think she was in such a dark place she wanted to commit suicide, but we already knew that was gonna happen going in. It doesn’t make that moment any less shocking though and there’s a sense of tension and foreboding although she’s very calm on the surface.

It must have been tough getting into the mindset of a manic depressive (that’s what she would have been diagnosed with today) but Hall does a terrific job. She walks with a slouch like she always has the weight of the world on her shoulders and has this dark cloud over her 80% of the time. It must have been a tough role so well done Hall.

I must also praise Michael C. Hall for playing George, the anchor at her station and somebody she kinda fancies, Maria Dizzia (from Orange is the New Black) as co-worker Jean and Letts, who really comes head-to-head with Chubbuck on a number of occasions.

This is definitely not a fun experience but it’s a powerful and enlightening character study. I don’t think I fully understood her mindset to the extent her suicide made sense, but it’s rare to see films portray depression so unflinchingly and the depiction of it was the most interesting part to me. What an incredible and sad story.

Seen as part of the BFI London Film Festival. It is currently without a U.K. cinema release date. 

 

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