Both lead actor (Michael C. Hall) and actress (Rebecca Hall) share the same last name (unrelated) as well as both having spouses named Morgan, which incidentally is also the last name of the character Michael played on Dexter. See more »
The Sony television in Christine and her mom's living room is a model clearly from no earlier than the late 1970s. See more »
Rebecca Hall gives one of the year's best performances without a doubt
On July 15th, 1974, Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on live television. On the evening news on a local Florida television station, Chubuck calmly informed her viewers that "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in 'blood and guts', and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide." She raised a gun to her head and fired. This was a woman who battled depression and paranoia, and the thought of exploring such a sad story in a feature film feels at times misguided and yet often transcendent. While I don't necessarily understand the merit of underpinning such a dark and trivial moment in history for the purposes of a film, I can't help but admire the art.
Antonio Campos directs this smaller indie film that was released on the film festival circuit earlier this fall. To be honest I am surprised this movie hasn't generated more buzz this season, but I suppose topic matter and budgets oftentimes prohibit such things. Whether or not you have heard of Chubbuck's sad story, Campos nonetheless works to analyze the torment that was behind this woman's struggle and the boiling points of the human psyche.
Rebecca Hall is our star, and when I say that this is a remarkable bit of acting, believe me. Unrecognizable behind dark eyebrows and a center-part of long hair, I think that this is quite easily one of the year's strongest performances and one I hope is not forgotten come Oscar time. We meet Christine as a driven reporter, oftentimes staying late or editing her segments down to the last few moments before air. She exists on the cusp of the modern news era; when stories began transitioning from human interest to violence, shock. The station manager sees a decline in ratings and asks his reporters to seek out more controversial news. "If it bleeds, it leads." A few years ago the movie "Nightcrawler" worked to figure out the public's fascination with gore. Christine could easily be it's origin story.
Not only has Christine focused her news stories on things like local chickens and the building of freeways, but the owner of the company (an aloof John Cullom) visits the station in hopes of recruiting anchors for a new station in Baltimore. Faced with the possibility of becoming a legitimate reporter, Christine has no choice but to succumb. She buys a police scanner and stays up late nights, searching for breaking news. At one point she hears about a house fire and rushes to the scene with a camera in hand. She interviews the resident in tight closeup and fails to even get a shot of the flames. Even in peril, she can't make the transition.
Hall portrays Christine as a lonely woman with glimmers of hope. During the day she volunteers at a children's hospital and puts on puppet shows to the joy of kids. She seems to enjoy it, too. Her mother is much too interested in finding a new date than to remember to meet her daughter for a lunch date. Oftentimes she plays out scenes alone, meditative, working on keeping her positive facade in prime condition. Just below the surface we see a growing menace and distance that ultimately leads to the chilling finale.
If you are to see Christine, see it for Rebecca Hall. What a wonderful morning it would be to hear her name called out as an Oscar nominee. She's that good. The film overall sways in and out of interest, trekking through a story that seems constructed only to justify an end when a woman kills herself on live TV. What do we learn from the story? Where is the deeper understanding of depression and mental illness? Rebecca Hall keeps our interest with absolute hypnotism but in doing so allows us to sidestep the fact that this is a flawed movie at it's core.
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