“Christine” is the chilling real-life drama about Christine Chubbuck, the 1970s TV reporter who dedicated her life to reading the news, but only commanded national attention in death after a bloody public suicide. The excruciating battle she fights, both professionally and personally, is beautifully depicted in the mononymous film that bears her first name.
It could be easy to exploit Christine, but lead actress Rebecca Hall and director Antonio Campos tell the tragic tale in a way that is respectful and cautionary. In the film, Christine is desperate to report meaningful stories. The only problem is that her WZRB’s station in Sarasota, Florida, needs higher ratings and she is resistant to compromise. While Christine pitches a slew of story ideas, her boss, news director Mike Simmons, is only interested in one thing: “If it bleeds, it leads.” When her career and personal life come to an apparent halt, she is compelled to make a serious choice.
Christine is impenetrable, which further isolates her. This quality is demonstrated through her relationships with people like fellow WXLT-TV reporter George Peter Ryan, played by Michael C. Hall. Even though she has a crush on him, she pushes him away. Maria Dizzia plays Jean Read, Christine’s possible protégée who tries to soothe her.
With "Christine", Campos, whose previous credits include low-budget and well-received films "Simon Killer" (2012) and "Afterschool" (2008), provides the type of grim character study that leaves a chilling impression. But it's Hall breakthrough performance that stands out. The London-born actress almost effortlessly transitions into a distressed reporter. From her dowdy clothes and mousy wig, to her robotic speech, she is effectively unrecognizable from her previous roles in "Vicky Christina Barcelona" (2008) and "The Town" (2010). The early Academy Award buzz is well deserved, and Hall seems at least fated for a nomination.
“Christine” premieres in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct. 14.
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