Friday, January 20, 2017

Now on Netflix: Christine (2016)

Christine (2016) - Directed by Antonio Campos; Written by Craig Shilowich; Starring Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J. Smith Cameron, Timothy Simons.

By Kenny Howell

Rebecca Hall gives a chilling performance of woman driven to suicide on live TV in this film based on a true story.

Christine Chubbuck was a TV reporter in 1970s Sarasota, Florida who took her own life during a broadcast. She battled severe depression, which was exacerbated by her personal and professional life. She was approaching 30 and had yet to find love, really only have gone on a few dates, and she felt stuck in her job.

The movie takes us up to the moment that she puts that gun to her head during the broadcast. Despite her profession being in front of her camera, Chubbuck was socially awkward and had trouble connecting with people, which of course hurt her dating life. She really wanted to be a mother, and that takes a hit as well when she has to have one of her ovaries removed, lessening her chance of getting pregnant. Doctors gave her about a 2-3 year window where she could successfully conceive. That put more pressure on her dating life, which she already had immense insecurity and stress.

On the professional side, the man that owned her news station also bought a station in Baltimore at the time, and was looking to move some of the reporters up there. Chubbuck was desperate to take that next step, but the clashes she had with the man running the network Michael, played by Tracy Letts (Indignation), made it seem like that was far fetched. He wanted to go in a more sensationalist direction, but she wanted to stick with community stories that actually informed citizens of what is going in their city. Her constant clashes made it seem she was hard to work with, or not willing to fall in line, which hurt her chance for advancement.

Christine doesn't try to make any grand statements, so it is really down to Hall (Tumbledown) to carry the film, and she does as always. Chubbuck is an unique challenge because her awkward nature can be abrasive, and it does push you away at times, but Hall never loses the sympathy you need to stay with it. She is obviously tragic because she was so eaten up by depression and self-doubt that it seemed there was no escape for her. Hall perfectly captures that and makes this film what it is, a pretty good examination of a woman pushed to the edge by her own psyche.

Christine is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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