The New Movie, “Christine,” Is Excellent

1970s society, in Christine (2016), has its mass media technology everywhere as well as its small and trivial consolations and “solutions”, e.g. Transactional Analysis, for life’s burdens.  None of it does 29-year-old Christine Chubbuck any ultimate good.  She is played, magnificently, by Rebecca Hall, but it is now widely known that Chubbuck was an actual person: a Sarasota TV reporter who, in 1974, shot herself on a live broadcast.

As played by Hall, Chubbuck is pretty and intelligent but neurotic, with an incessantly conflicted mind.  Living with a socializing mother (J. Smith-Cameron), she herself is socially hindered.  At the workplace she receives one blow after another, usually self-created, leaving her career un-advanced.  Her hot-tempered boss (Tracy Letts), fighting for newscast ratings, is getting fed up with her.

Christine is one of the best movies about a life in decline I have seen, and—as Peter Rainer indicated—director Antonio Campos and scenarist Craig Shilowich wisely decline to turn Chubbuck into a martyr.  What’s more, they demonstrate that a life ending in suicide is a life.  A person is living it, is active and thinking and talking.  All of this manages to be quite fresh.  Characterization is handled knowingly and perceptively.  The film is conventionally, flawlessly directed and (by Joe Anderson) photographed.  I had to see it in an arthouse theatre—in Tulsa, at the Circle Cinema—and although it belongs there, it should also be at the multiplex.

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