‘Christine’, directed by Antonio Campos (‘Afterschool’ and ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’) is a film where we know the ending from the very beginning as it’s based on a true story, yet this doesn’t take away from the story at all. If anything, it makes it all the more poignant.
Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) is a reporter for Channel 40 who is quickly approaching her 30th birthday. It doesn’t take long to realise that she’s depressed – she’s frustrated with how her job is going, her love life isn’t going anywhere, she still lives with her mother, and she’s been suffering from a mysterious stomach ache that just won’t back down. She won’t talk about it though and instead lets it all build up inside her, getting more and more overwhelming.
It’s a beautiful look at depression – so often films that revolve around mental health focus on the wrong things, or the parts they think the viewers want to see. Sometimes it’s all about the turn-around, and we miss crucial elements of when things are still not looking up. Thankfully though, ‘Christine’ manages to avoid this mistake, yet the result of that is of course that you’re in for a bit of an emotional ride.
Rebecca Hall is absolutely fantastic as Christine – I hadn’t actually seen anything with her in before, but she’s known for her parts in ‘Starter for Ten’ and ‘The Prestige’. In ‘Christine’ every slight action or expression she makes counts. Her acting is completely thought out, and it's mesmerising to watch. The anger that she gets across is unmistakable, yet it still seems subtle. When Christine is suffering we know about it, and we can’t help but feel completely in tune with it. Her performance is likely to be easy to relate to by a lot of people, whether they’ve experienced depression or not.
It’s not just Hall though – the whole cast bring something to the film, and perfectly complement her acting. The cinematography is powerful and sublime, focusing in on all the right parts. Some shots are as simple as a drawn-out take of Jean (Maria Dizzia), Christine’s colleague, putting away her groceries and taking some ice cream out of the freezer, yet they resonate with the viewer. And then, of course, the blunter scenes also have this effect, leaving you unable to take your eyes away from the screen.
I certainly found ‘Christine’ a hard watch, given the amount of emotion and distress that is exhibited, yet there were some beautiful moments of humour hidden amongst the pain that kept it from being too down on itself. Small moments between characters that added another dimension, and showed the positives that were around Christine during such a difficult time. It was still hard to all take in as of course it all happened, and the gravity of what actually happened is quite hard to envisage. I imagine that producing such a film was painful for both (director) and all of the actors involved, yet the end result was worth it. A distressing watch, but also a moving insight into the troubled world of a woman who really was the Sylvia Plath of the reporting world. 5/5
Christine at CeX
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