Christine opens with the backdrop of the 1970s news cycle front in center. Chubbuck, a reporter for a Sarasota, Florida news program, practices her grilling questions for President Richard Nixon, she is rehearsing for an interview that will never take place.
It is a very appropriate opening scene as we see Chubbuck aggressively prod with her questions while exposing her hard shell and slight disconnect with the outside world.
Chubbuck is played by the wonderful Rebecca Hall (The Town, The Gift.) She is one of the strongest actresses working today and is perfectly cast to play the role of the tragic protagonist.
Christine is a haunting look into the final days of Chubbuck’s life. In case you have never heard her name. Christine Chubbuck is infamous for killing herself live on television after shooting herself in the head.
Her impending suicide is a black cloud that hangs over the entire film. You know the ending so, like, Christine, you are completely helpless in watching a character free-fall into a deep abyss of whatever it was that made her decide to kill herself.
What could possibly drive someone to commit such a terrible act for the entire world to see?
While this film doesn’t exactly answer this question it brings to life serious questions about mental disorders and Chubbuck’s overall mental health.
Hall is an absolute revelation as Chubbuck. Chubbuck is not a likable character. There is no attempt here to make Christine a redeemable woman. This, at times, can make it a hard watch. After all this is a real person, and the surrounding characters of the film are based on real people as well. This is a true story, and while Shilowich stated that this is a work of fiction built around an act that really happened you can’t help but feel disturbed by the film.
Throughout the film Chubbuck struggles with the refusal to give into the sensationalism of journalism. Christine argues with her boss multiple times that she has no interest in covering blood and guts journalism, but instead wants to focus on real human emotions and real human stories.
It is ironic that Christine’s final statement of her life was using the shock of blood and guts to convey her human emotion and tragic story.
Campos’ direction is very solid here. The film is a slow burn as we watch Chubbuck decline. The tone of the film is set from the first shot and Shilowich’s script is a perfect fit for the visuals Campos delivers. But this film belongs to Rebecca Hall. Her grasp on the character is haunting. In every scene you see the uneasiness of Chubbuck, you see the pain and the struggle. Yet, when the climax of the film hits and Christine follows through with her suicide it is shocking, disturbing and incredibly upsetting.
This film hits on every note it wants to. It tells a story that has largely been forgotten, but a story that we can learn from. Christine was a tragic person who performed an unspeakable, unforgivable act. This film is guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from everyone that sees it and that is an accomplishment in itself.