Dramatisation of the sad demise of Christine Chubbuck, featuring astonishing work from Rebecca Hall
Following in the wake of documentary-drama hybrid Kate Plays Christine, Christine is the second film over the past year to try and understand Florida television news reporter Christine Chubbuck, who committed suicide on air on July 15, 1974. Director Antonio Campos (Afterschool, Simon Killer) does a fine job of capturing the chaos and cheesiness of a small-time 1970s news station and the growing pressure to achieve higher ratings.
Station boss Michael (an excellent Tracy Letts) embraces the mantra 'if it bleeds, it leads' as he believes sensationalism is the only path to survival. In many respects, Christine (Rebecca Hall) is a victim of the changing values in television news reporting. Christine is a serious journalist, dedicated to her work, eager to advance her career but also appalled by the kind of ambulance-chasing antics that might be required to get herself noticed. She is also painted here as neurotic, insecure and someone who makes a habit of keeping everyone at arm's length. No matter the good intention of colleagues like anchorman George (Michael C Hall) and concerned co-worker Jean (Maria Dizzia), the paranoid Christine is still left thinking that nobody listens to or values her.
Hall is astonishing as a woman constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There is an edgy, uncomfortable quality to Christine that makes her difficult to be around but Hall incorporates all the conflicts and contradictions into a detailed, truly multilayered performance. Her Christine is immensely sympathetic but overwhelmed by mental health issues and you witness the pressure building as she grows increasingly panicky and tearful. Hall's performance is so powerful that you are left with the urge to step into the screen and intervene. Sadly, in the end, nobody was able to stop Christine making herself the news story.
Selected release from Fri 27 Jan.