By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Not to be confused with the Stephen King book, Christine is an unconventional biopic about one Florida news reporter and her struggle adapting to the rise of sensationalist media. A harrowing yet fascinating film, and a career best performance from Rebecca Hall.
Based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall), a television news reporter in Florida who struggles with internal demons as well as the pressure of the changing news industry in 1974.
Directed by Antonio Campos, Christine joins the ranks of other great biopics of 2016, if you can call them biopics. It’s up there with Jackie for its tragedy and timeline, but a wholly better film for its lack of pretension and superb performances. We see Christine promptly descend into a downward spiral, and that’s the focus of this narrative.
Although this is some significantly dark stuff, Christine is still occasionally funny. Campos gradually exposes us to the inner workings of the news reporter’s mind but doesn’t parade her around as a glorified on screen mental patient. He treats her with respect and dignity. On top of that, he not only captures the pressure of being Christine, but the pressure of being a woman in a newsroom in the 1970s.
Rebecca Hall’s performance is one of a kind, and should have garnered more attention than it did. Her posture, facial expressions, accent… everything is flawless. The chemistry between her and hot shot news anchor George Ryan (Michael C. Hall) is an interesting one. Christine never really accepts the extended helping hand that Ryan offers, and Rebecca Hall portrays her inner struggle and dialogue brilliantly. Finally a role that really showcases this actress’ full potential.
Another dominant character is the familiar 1970s autumn palette which plays a huge part in Christine’s Sarasota surroundings. Even Christine herself is more or less shrouded in autumn, but there’s a faint green hue to her appearance, as if she was so close to fitting in, but just missed out.
See this film. It’s a fascinating character study and it’s even more relevant with today’s media.
Photo: Film Comment