As often happens in Hollywood, two films came out around the same time about the same subject, in this case Christine Chubbuck,  a real-life reporter who took her life during a live broadcast in the 1970s. I reviewed Kate Plays Christine previously, and didn’t much care for its treatment of the subject. I needed a breather so have only now braced myself for the second film, Christine.

And this one is better, if I’m still not entirely sure we’ve gotten to the bottom of who she was and why she did what she did. If you do research on her as I have, much has been hqdefault.jpgmade of the fact that she (played by Rebecca Hall) was 30 and horrified of it, still a boyfriendless, childless virgin. I’m sort of offended on behalf of women everywhere that this is seen by anyone as the reason for her suicide. She was a troubled woman who’d struggled with depression and had left a job and life behind elsewhere in order to ‘rebuild.’ But this new place wasn’t going much better. A year in, she pined for the news anchor (Michael C. Hall) yet pushed him away when he got near. She yearned to do important investigative reporting but the station manager insisted on a “if it bleeds, it leads” policy. She couldn’t get promoted and wasn’t being taken seriously. She lived with her mother, sometimes happily, sometimes not.

Her on-air personality was quite cheerful but she was much more socially awkward in real life. Hall portrays her as troubled and disappointed, but not depressed beyond repair. So when the suicide comes, as you know it inevitably will, it still caught me off guard. Certainly we’d need to see her mental state unravel far more before this point arrives? I was shocked by it, and am not sure if the director, Antonio Campos, is trying to tell us that perhaps she wasn’t truly suicidal, or if the story was just lacking. I can’t rule christine-rebecca-hall.jpgout the former since I’ve always found the circumstance of her death a little fishy. Before she put the gun to her head, she read out a brief statement, basically accusing the station of pushing her to do this drastic, bloody thing. She’d also prepared a statement for a colleague to read out afterward, though none did. In that, she described her actions as a “suicide attempt” and reported that she’d been taken to hospital alive but in serious condition. Had she not planned or wanted her suicide to be “successful”? We’ll never know.

The film has a yellowed look to it, no doubt added afterward to achieve a vintage feel authentic to a 1970s era. It’s also well-acted by both Halls (no relation), with Rebecca Hall adopting a lower and more formulated voice, and Michael C. Hall slipping into a shiny-haired broadcaster’s charm. Although I don’t feel like the film offers us a complete (or at least a true) look at her life, the convincing and often gripping performances make Christine worthwhile.

14 thoughts on “Christine

  1. Sarca

    Totally agree with your summation…I watched this and was also shocked with the end, even when I knew it was coming. It did seem rather “quick draw” and completely confusing from how the movie was played out. At the same time, as you know from your research on her, we don’t know entirely what was going on in Christine’s head to make her do something so drastic. Then again, suicide is a result of extreme thoughts paired with extreme action, and often the former plays out in total secret. We will never know.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stephanie Ward

    Great review! It sounds like this was a potentially interesting film — it’s a shame it didn’t dig deeper.


  3. dbmoviesblog

    Great review. I agree with every point you’ve made, especially on women’s reasons to commit suicide. So tactless and tasteless by the story to even suggest that. Christine’s situation was definitely very complex, and no movie could ever do complete justice to her – because the whole situation and what was running in her head only Christine knew that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In My Cluttered Attic

    It was shocking then and is still shocking today. Doubt what goes through someone’s mind before suicide can ever satisfactorily be explained, but when someone does something like this on live television it would be nice to understand. Why?


  5. Lloyd Marken

    I can’t speak Christine’s motivations but perhaps much is made about her being boyfriendless, childless and a virgin because for many women and men we do feel our lives our incomplete if we have not attained a long lasting relationship or started a family by a certain age. This often comes from within but can also come from without and in that period of time 30 would have been very old to have not met some of those yardsticks that society let alone ourselves like to throw at us. On the other hand some of the points you made about frustrations at work, history of depression the way she interacts with people and they with her seem like very relevant to why she may made this regrettable choice. As always a great review Jay.


  6. Susan Leighton

    I would like to see this movie. Rebecca Hall was terrific in Tumbledown. Michael C. Hall (my birthday twin) could read the phonebook and I would watch him do it. I can’t believe I don’t remember hearing about this reporter.
    You have every right to be annoyed Jay, if they tried to portray that every woman who is 30 and childless is depressed. That is offensive. Terrific review and I definitely will try to catch this flick.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIESKate Plays Christine

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