These days, there aren’t many events that occur that you could say are local. If something major happens we all hear about it due to social media and the internet at large. Back in the 70’s however, this wasn’t the case. Stories and events, even large stories and events, could be kept quite local, perhaps only going as far as countrywide at best. So how do you tell a story like that to a global audience?
Christine attempts to do just that. It tells the story of Christine Chubbuck, a news reporter in the 1970’s who worked for WXLT-TV in Florida. If you are from Florida, you probably know who she is and what happened. I’m afraid the same can’t be said outside of the USA though. I’ve asked everyone I know and all came back with blank faces. This isn’t a story that seemed to have gone global at any point in my lifetime at least. Perhaps it should have though, it certainly would now.
The film has taken a few liberties, for reasons unknown, with other accounts of Christine’s life that exist. Apparently, her younger brother Greg lived with them for a while before moving out and older brother Timothy moved in. She had also spoken to her family on numerous occasions about her depression and struggles with daily life but this too is omitted.
It’s fair to say that Christine, played rather brilliantly by Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, Transcendence), is a troubled woman. She’s about to turn 30, is a virgin, is prone to mood swings and lives with her mother who’s divorced. She struggles at work, it’s clear she is highly intelligent but the station’s ratings are plummeting and they just want pieces that will increase ratings, Christine wants real news, gritty pieces.
Christine also has a crush on news anchor-man George Ryan, played by Michael C. Hall (Cold in July, Dexter), who sadly is already dating the ‘pretty little blonde’ sports reporter, unbeknownst to Christine.
When it’s announced that the station owner Bob Anderson, played by John Cullum (Northern Exposure, The Middle), has purchased a new station and is looking for a couple of people to take, everyone begins to try that bit harder. Christine in particular makes it her mission to get the job. Sadly though, she fails to do so and this, coupled with finding out about George and her recent news that she needs a fairly major operation, send her spiraling deeper into darkness.
I would urge people who don’t know this story not to find out about it before you go and watch. Let the film surprise you and trust me, it will. Having said that, it’s slow going for the first hour and Christine is not a likable character (though this is testament to Hall’s portrayal) which means it can feel like hard work. The second hour doesn’t exactly fly-by but it has you gripped and raises your interest better than the first.
Given the subject matter of the film and the finale, you’d expect that first-time writer Craig Shilowich would attempt to say something, have a message with the film. If he tried, then he missed the mark for me which was disappointing. Together with director Antonio Campos (Simon Killer, Afterschool) they have just told the story without really saying anything about the times or would things have been different now, which I feel the film would have benefited from.
The film also continues for ten minutes or so after ‘the event’ and this is completely pointless for me. It should have ended, it was a natural end, a logical end, I don’t see the reasons for continuing.
Christine is, much like the subject, a flawed biopic but with some stand-out performances. Perhaps wait for it to be on TV.