By Justin Cudahy, Contributor
[The Orchard; 2016]
Christine is an American-British biographical film that gives viewers a look at the final weeks of news reporter Christine Chubbuck’s life, who orchestrated a live suicide in front of thousands watching at home in 1974. Phenomenal acting by both Rebecca Hall and Michael C. Hall coupled with Antonio Campos’s great directing is enough to give this movie the attention it deserves.
People won’t be seeing this movie to see what happens to Chubbuck in the end, but rather why it happens, and the movie does just that. It starts off a few weeks prior to the infamous incident, as we are introduced to everyone in the station. There’s Christine (Rebecca Hall), who is a rather off-beat and quiet news reporter, George (Michael C. Hall), who is the charismatic lead anchor for the station that Christine has a crush on, Michael (Tracy Letts), the stereotypical loudmouth and brazen boss at the station and Jean (Maria Dizzia), Christine’s only real friend and coworker, who always maintains a positive outlook on life. When a news executive comes and announces his plan to promote people to a station in Baltimore, Christine makes sure that she is the one they promote. Unfortunately, she has a tough time trying to get with the new agenda at the station in what is called “blood and guts” journalism, where “If it bleeds, it leads,” according to Michael. The more Christine struggles, the more her depression and health begins to get worse, affecting her relationship with people, including her mother. She suffers from problems, not just in her professional life, but also personal. Due to her inability to seek out for help, she falls into a deep hole, unable to get out.
Rebecca Hall’s portrayal of Christine Chubbuck is by far the best performance of her career. She makes the character so unbelievably convincing and succeeds in having the audience develop a connection for her straight from the beginning. When her mental health begins to degrade, so do the viewers’. Since the film’s conclusion is already pre-determined, it’s almost gut wrenching to see Chubbuck getting to that final point, and a part of you will almost beg that somehow, someway, something different happens. Only great acting can do so, and it would not be a surprise to see her nominated for an Academy Award next year. She is supported by both Michael C. Hall and Tracy Letts who also shine throughout, making the movie all the better.
Director Antonio Campos is a relatively unknown director in Hollywood, but has definitely begun to make a name for himself after the release of Christine. One of the things he executes perfectly is pacing the movie steadily throughout, building tension for every second that passes. However, the climax of the movie is anticlimactic, to say the least. It could have been filmed so much better and fails to create much emotion from the audience when it does occur which could ruin the movie for some.
Christine is one of the best movies to come out in what has been a relatively weak year for film (so far). Despite its lackluster conclusion, the acting and directing help make up for it, proving to critics that it deserves recognition in the upcoming awards season.