Directed by Antonio Campos
The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.
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★★★★★ review by Katie on Letterboxd
"You might just make it after all."
I would love to talk about this film and what it did to me, but right now I'm about to lose it so I don't think I can. I hope more people do watch this though, because it's absolutely perfect.
★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
The media crew hustles and bustles about the studio, cutting and adding and scripting frenetically in an attempt to make last minute changes just before the station goes live in front of the entire city of Sarasota, Florida. Cameras are trained on the large desk in the front and center- the stage from which the news anchors perform their art. Reporting is given a sense of artistry, a burst of creativity jumps into the most seemingly mundane report at times in a moment of inspiration. Christine Chubbuck was always looking for that inspiration, that inciting angle to give a fresh perspective on her work that gave her a precious limited amount of creative control. The day and age in which she lived was overrun by an aura of masculinity, where feminism is viewed as an invisible movement not yet given the voice it now has. Director Antonio Campos ensures that we are bred to loathe her boss, who consistently pressures Christine to stick with the standards and dismisses any signs of excitement or creativity she might have bursting from her depression-suffering self. Perhaps the film is a little too direct with how the audience's emotions should be directed towards the individual characters, yet it somehow makes the inciting final moment that much more dramatic in its effectiveness.
I had never heard of Chubbuck or her story before hearing about this film, and I didn't do any research on it prior to seeing this either. Despite knowing how it would end up, I wasn't expecting it to be as swift and shocking as it was, but Campos sufficiently ensures that the dramatic buildup of Christine's story arc makes the finale that much more effective. Rebecca Hall is supremely emotional and psychologically driven in her performance, bringing about a portrait of an individual suffocating in a primitive workplace environment run rampant with sexism in the management. Screenwriter Craig Shilowich mixes factual evidence with fictional fabrication to create a mosaic of who Chubbuck really was in the twilight days of her life. She was a woman dedicated to her art, committed to finding any possible opening to provide a different outlook at a news story. But her tale is layered with oppression, surrounded in an environment still drowning in antiquated thought processes and treatments that perhaps served as one of the biggest culprits to her downfall. It's a heartfelt look at a genuinely misunderstood soul driven through the depths of mental anguish.
Christine is a perturbing experience- a harrowing examination of psychological fracturing in a cutthroat world of journalism. It becomes second nature to feel for Chubbuck through Rebecca Hall's exhilarating portrayal, her emotions expand through every frame, overwhelming the senses with her sentiment of suffocation. Every actor is completely involved, synthesizing a tightly knit cast that helps to deliver the full emotional impact that this film hand delivers to you. It's a film so mesmerizing in its delicate attention to its subject, so deft and swift in its crafty handling of its subject material, so tantalizingly perfect in its lead performance, that I find myself drawn back to wanting to view it over and over again. Christine Chubbuck's story is fascinating, to say the least; but Campos has turned it into a unique work of art that is as powerful in its portrayals as it is in its own messages.
★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
Rebecca Hall gives what is probably the most transparent and revelatory performance of this decade. I'm shaken beyond words right now.
(Full review tomorrow.)
★★★½ review by jose on Letterboxd
It's cute but I was expecting a possessed car
★★★★★ review by Logan Kenny on Letterboxd
there is one shot of this that haunts my brain. the whole film is building up to the inevitable, the suicide of christine chubbuck on live television, this incident is why the film exists, there would be no reason to make a film about this woman if it wasn't for how she left this world. campos instead of sensationalising her like robert greene did with his great yet inferior film kate plays christine, tries to understand the person behind the suicide, and crafts an intricate portrayal of a woman, where the suicide doesn't seem like the only force driving the film. she is ostensibly a person here, her death essentially comes out of nowhere near the end of the film, it's not what the film is about, it doesn't try and understand why she killed herself, because only she knew exactly. it shows circumstances in her life and with quotations from the speech she made before pulling the trigger, so that we as an audience can speculate about why she did it, but campos has no interest in turning his film into nothing but speculative gossip, exploiting her and her family for the sake of clickbait soulless pandering. throughout the film we see her interactions with others, her dedication to her job, her turmulent relationship with her mother, her infatuation with a co worker, frustrations with her boss, a few breakdowns, a doctor's appointment, her working, her at a party, her doing everyday things that most people in the first world do constantly. she never monologues to the camera about her pain, about her wish for death. rebecca hall is unbelievable here, giving without a doubt one of the best performances of last year. so with everything that's happened throughout the film, christine is a person, so her death feels shocking and devastating. it essentially comes completely out of nowhere, there are hints sure but the film doesn't make itself about foreshadowing the inevitable so when she makes her speech and the bullet goes into her skull, i felt like the people around her, bewildered and horrified. back to the shot i mentioned at the start, when christine fires the gun and her blood splatters against the wall, it cuts to michael c. hall, who plays her coanchor, and we see his face just lose all presence of joy and confidence, we see the life drain from his eyes as he realises what has just happened. and his performance, what he does with his face in a 5 second shot is the best performance i've seen all year and hasn't left me since i saw the film weeks ago. the film doesn't ogle at her death either, it focuses on the aftermath, her mother seeing it on TV, her best friend rushing over to her lifeless body and sitting alone in a darkened room after she's pronounced dead, her boss' expression of pure pain. to the people who remembered christine before these two films came out, she will always be known for her deaths as it was the only thing that made people know her name but this film says that no matter what happens to her and the infamous legacy she holds on those people that saw her die and the people who obsessively speculate or ponder her reasonings for doing what she did, she was a human being just like you or me. most haunting film i've seen in a long time.
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