Dir: Antonio Campos
The name of Christine Chubbuck has gone down in TV infamy. Her time spent with a local TV station in Florida in the early 70s, only exasperated her depression, leading to fatal consequences. Her death would be the first televised suicide and the aftermath would be just as chaotic.
This is not Steven King’s ridiculous tale of a killer car, but a true story more tragic in experience. Antonio Campos’ film is a sensitive and compiling portrayed of the frisky journalist. The film is saturated in orange hues, complementing the 70s setting.
You know how it ends but that doesn’t stop it from being shocking. It’s been established that the video footage from the actual suicide has been destroyed, but a copy was apparently discovered a few years ago. The question of why do people want to watch it still lingers large. The film appears to do a very good job in recreating the on set death, even with so much fictionalised about her last few days.
Cinema lovers are graced with two portraits from 2016 into Christine’s mindset. The documentary Kate Becomes Christine looks at the dynamic of never really creating a true replica in the representation of a real person onto film. I have yet to have seen it, but it appears to be of less interest than Campos’ feature.
What makes this so watchable is Rebecca Hall in the leading role. Through her lack of social graces, seething depression and passion for her work; Hall delivers a performance that rivals any of the last year. Her puppet show for children in hospital, is a telling marker for her inner emotions and concerns (with the final show about being able to be silent with friends). The acute offering of Christine as sympathetic, relatable yet distant is a remarkable feat. This is a special kind of performance where actor, character and the real person meld into one.
Her resentment of the demands of her job would be acted in one of the most twisted moments of TV ever. Since they demanded more shocking TV news (do things ever change?), she tired so hard to please and her cranky boss Michael, played by Tracy Letts (playwright of August: Osage County and Killer Joe) the studio chief of the local station, only tells her off or says move on to something else for a juicer news story. Michael C Hall is George, a fellow host who may or may not like Christine. Hall is his usual kurt and amusing self, that we know and love from Six Feet Under and Dexter.
The mental illness element is usually on a knife’s edge, reaching a crescendo in her rant about fake flowers on set. The relationship between mental health and the workplace is still important today, as her decision to kill herself and in such an extremes way, should really make people think about their health first.
One final question remains: where is Rebecca Hall’s Oscar nomination?
Should be seen on all accounts.
Testament to a televised travesty.
Rating: 4 stars
Chapter Arts Centre’s Mirror Mirror Season continues with further screenings of Christine, Network, Blue Velvet, Blue Velvet Revisited, the Cardiff based Prevenge and Rosemary’s Baby.
An extended performance of Satie’s Vexations takes place around Cardiff in 2017, as a fundraiser for OCD UK, with such venues as the Wales Millennium Centre as locations (more to be confirmed). We also need more musicians, venues, electronics artists, rap artists and artists in all fields to help to complete the piece. Follow #CardiffVexations & @weepingtudor on social media to see more!
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