Christine (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

 

Christine (2016) 


Directed by Antonio Campos • Written by Craig Shilowich


With Rebecca Hall, Tracy Letts and Michael C. Hall


The true story of 1970’s TV reporter, Christine Chubbuck, Antonio Campos’s biopic chronicles her life in the days leading up to her shocking suicide, which she carried out in front of a live television audience.

There’s an interesting blend of tones and textures, as a battleground of two warring mentalities between Christine’s idealistic optimism and suffocating anxiety is played out through soundtrack choices and an affectionate eye for the period.

In the title role, Rebecca Hall’s performance is utterly fascinating in its complexity – Christine’s inner torment giving way to frantic outbursts in the competitive world of TV news, where appearances come first and weakness is disease. Indeed, it’s a stark reminder of the change in general awareness toward depression. As the story unfolds, Christine’s demeanor fluctuates with increasing regularity, revving into a cycle of fatal inconsistency. Hall is astonishingly good, capturing endless amounts nuance as her downward spiral accelerates. It’s one of those performances that has you questioning how ‘Oscar‘ never came calling.

Hall is supported by a good cast, most notably Michael C. Hall as a supportive colleague and Tracy Letts as the frustrated station chief desperately scouting for the next big story as the Watergate scandal subliminally unfolds in the background. There’s a good sense of irony to that aspect of the narrative, which lends a duality to the layers on which the film operates. In no small sense, as much as Christine is about the tragedy of one woman’s personal demise, it’s also a glance at the dawn of modern media reporting, and the way in which reality television emerged and gained relevance.

4.5/5 

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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9 Responses to Christine (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. This is great! Gives me hope that I’ll end up enjoying this film. Glad to see someone’s seen this film.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I watched it late at night and went to bed quite shaken. Rebecca Hall’s performance is haunting in the way it conjures the ghost of Christine Chubbick. I felt uncomfortably absorbed…knowing the real story and the tragic outcome.

      • Wow! That’s incredible. I’ll try and keep that in mind whenever it is I get around to see this film. I knew instantly from the trailer that this film was one I needed to see.

  2. I don’t know that I would rate the film as a whole quite as high as you, but I agree with you that Rebecca Hall’s performance is something truly remarkable — and utterly haunting. It’s a singular performance.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, my 4.5/5 was reflective of how it made me feel. Who knows where this will stand in the grand pantheon…but I felt all of absorbed, empathetic, disturbed and shaken. I’ve had Rebecca Hall on my radar since a small indie film called ‘Please Give’, but this performance is next level. Thank you for responding.

  3. Jay says:

    Okay, okay, I’ll watch it. I just kind of needed a break after I watched (and didn’t care for) Kate Plays Christine.

  4. dbmoviesblog says:

    Good review. This was such a fine film. Though I still don’t understand how they could have “blended” personal tragedy and the message about irresponsible modern TV practices. Disrespectful. Christine’s suicide should never have been linked with any broader themes (let alone in an entertainment movie!), since personal issues played a major role in her death. Seems just wrong, an “irresponsible practice” on the part of the film crew.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I don’t believe it’s disrespectful to tie-in those underlying themes, as Christine herself was strongly against the lobotomisation of TV news and reporting. Furthermore, I felt the film was clear enough about her personal struggle to allow the audience to make a distinction between her suffering and the TV-news subtext. Final counterpoint, I don’t feel like this is an entertainment picture in the usual sense – the movements in the screenplay and film tone are deftly applied, between an affectionate lens for the period and the turmoil Christine feels. I think this a great juxtaposition for the film and only serves to highlight and define Christine’s plight. If anything, the narrative is respectful to her suffering and sympathetic to her troubles. In the end, she was in deep pain and needed more help than the people around her knew how to give. There’s no disrespect or judgement in the film, the contrary, it’s trying to humanise and signpost her pain so that we can all see the inherent goodness in her soul. I was deeply moved by it.

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