Review - Christine
By midlandsmovies, Mar 9 2017 03:32PM
Christine (2017) Dir. Antonio Campos
Tackling depression and career progression, Christine is a new biopic about real-life news reporter Christine Chubbock who toils with her demons in the 1970s as she aspires to bring a sense of authenticity to the scoop-driven tabloid TV show she works in.
A powerhouse performance that carries the whole film, Rebecca Hall keeps Antonio Campos’s third movie focused solely on the lead as she gets dispirited in her career fight to raise journalistic standards. As her manager lowers the bar to ever increasing “hack” stories, Chubbock tries to fight back but in doing so creates an unpleasant personality others find abrasive.
As health issues force her to consider the possibility of being unable to bear children, she hopes the station’s owner can see her drive and determination and give her a promotion to prime time in their new Baltimore office.
However, whilst lambasting her colleagues, her moods swing wildly and her mother, whom she shares a house with, is all too aware of her emotional problems from the past. As co-worker George (an intense Michael C. Hall) asks her out, her optimism turns to disillusionment as he whisks her off to a self-help group who advise he on dealing with the problems she faces.
The director lets the drama play out on screen and an almost constant presence of conflict keeps the narrative moving at pace. A solid group of actors help play the various roles but they are ultimately side-lined for the focus on Hall as Chubbock. Hall plays the title role with depth, subtlety and strength yet shows cracks in the hard-nosed Chubbock to reveal an inevitable vulnerability.
As Christine is snubbed for the possible promotion, her world heads towards ever-increasing bouts of volatility and risk before one final act of defiance and peace is achieved.
If you don’t know by now, this real-life story ended with Chubbock committing suicide by firearm live on air as she presented a new bulletin. The video of which has never officially made public since cutting to black after the event. A sad final act for someone who saw no other choice to escape her world.
Acting wise, Tracy Letts as the put-upon station manager Michael Nelson is a delight who tolerates Christine’s erratic behaviour yet seems to understand the clash of driving forces within. With a great soundtrack of 1970s music and simple but effective pacing and editing, Christine is an actor’s dream. Dialogue, body language and narrative come together with a good script that creates discord amongst the characters and allows both emotion and logic to shine through.
In addition, Hall does superb work with a complex character that could have easily been exploitative. It avoids focusing on the terrible incident that made her “famous” and attempts to explain what could have caused such a tragedy. Christine’s career-minded female juggling the demands of work, love and womanhood exposes the mental strain of life yet handles all of these difficult themes with compassion and without judgement.
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