Christine tells the story of an ordinary woman with extraordinary potential. The story itself may be slow, but the woman is fascinating.
The story of Christine Chubbuck is a devastating one of loneliness, depression and hopelessness. On July 15, 1974 Christine Chubbuck shocked America with an impulsive move on a live television newscast. Although Christine has been advertised with a narrative summary which states exactly what she does, going into this film blind will make the event all the more shocking.
Christine starts out as a very ordinary story but a very important one at that. Suffering from depression and struggling to find fulfilment in her life and job, Christine (Rebecca Hall) takes each day as it comes, suffering with her own psyche and yo-yoing between just okay and complete despair.
What makes Christine so credible, though, is that for the most part she shows barely any signs of this struggle she is battling with in her head. With mental illness being an incredibly sensitive and hugely varying issue, the easy route is left untouched; instead director Antonio Campos takes a different direction, allowing the audience to see very gradually that Christine is quietly suffering.
Rebecca Hall delivers an absolutely incredible, career-defining performance. Her portrayal of Christine is just phenomenal – one which is well worthy of Oscar nominations. Her character unfolds very delicately, just enough to keeping us hooked to see what happens next in the story.
However, the story is where Christine falls short. The narrative is so character driven that the beginning and middle segments just seem to be aimlessly guiding us through with no real direction or idea as to how Christine is going to end up where she does. Looking at Christine’s character development in detail, it’s clear to see that things intensify, and every single incident is a part of a bigger picture which is leading to that fateful day. It’s easy to appreciate this when it’s executed to flawlessly by Hall, but that doesn’t excuse the blandness of the actual events in the narrative leading up to the final event.
Nevertheless, Hall’s stunning performance is somewhat redeeming and aids other aspects of the film. With such an intent focus on the protagonist, every word uttered is important. Everything Christine says gives us that little bit more insight into the head of this contradictory and mysterious woman. For this, screenplay writer Craig Shilowich must be commended for the gentle approach towards writing the words of a troubled woman.
Everyone has a little bit of Christine in them, and everyone can admire her for her ‘never give up’ mentality which won’t have her settle for second best. Her commitment to her principles is completely admirable and invokes important questions about mass media culture.
Christine feels just a little too slow to get going, but Rebecca Hall’s multi-layered, intricate, and completely exceptional performance is just too impressive to pass on.
Christine (2016) directed by Antonio Campos, is being shown as part of the 2016 BFI London Film Festival. Further information about the festival including screening times and ticket information can be found here.