Title – Christine (2016)
Director – Antonio Campos (Afterschool)
Cast – Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia
Plot – The true story of notorious 1970’s American news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Hall) and her battle with mental demons and struggles with advancement in her highly stressful profession.
“You’re not getting into one of your moods again, are you?”
Review by Eddie on 11/09/2017
Christine (no relation to the Stephen King Christine) is an uncomfortable watch.
There’s nothing grisly, seedy or terrifying but Antonio Campos’s film presents such a realistic and unquestionably bleak portrait of a rapidly deteriorating human being, brought down to her lowest ebb through unrealistic expectations and dreams, that it makes for eye squinting and tough viewing, in this retelling of real life news reporter/journalist Christine Chubbuck.
There may be many that know of Chubbuck’s story but for the sake of those that don’t, Campos’s film delves into the final months of Chubbuck’s life as her fractured ego and increasingly erratic behaviour towards her work, co-workers such as Maria Dizzia’s good hearted colleague Jean, Tracy Lett’s tough station boss Michael or Michael C. Hall’s potential love interest and news anchor George and genuine everyday life threatens to implode at any moment and when that moment comes, it ends up being one of the most shocking and sad moments in television history.
Chubbuck isn’t at all an easy person to relate or warm to. She’s quick to wrath, stubborn beyond reasoning, cold and self-centred but she’s also clearly a person that wasn’t in a sane state of mind and nailing this tricky business is Rebecca Hall who delivers a career best turn as the doomed figure.
A for some reason long-standing member of Hollywood’s underrated field, Hall has over a number of years performed strongly in a large collection of big budgeted and smaller scale pictures but Chubbuck gives her a chance to really show her acting chops.
In almost every frame of the film, Hall is never less than captivating, even though Chubbuck is herself equally frustrating and it’s likely had this film gained more traction in the mainstream media, Hall would’ve been a worthy player in awards season attention.
From big moments through to small subtle character traits Hall embodies this lost soul and is the best thing about the sometimes monotonously paced film and she’s that good that many of the films side characters including those played by Michael C. Hall and Dizzia feel a little underwhelming, with Michael C. Hall in particular once again finding himself in a role that is below his range and it feels as though the highs of early Dexter are still a ways off from being recaptured in feature length roles.
Final Say –
Capturing the time and place of early 1970’s America well, Christine is a solid if unremarkable drama that’s filled to overflowing with foreboding, bleakness and disappointment, making it not for everyone but harbouring a noteworthy performance from Rebecca Hall. Christine is a tough slog but one that’s worth tuning in for.
3 hand puppet shows out of 5