Sundance Review: Christine
Christine is a story based on true events. We're told this from any synopsis we read about the movie beforehand, as well as in the film itself right after we see the title. If you know anything about the story, you know that Christine follows the events leading up to the death of Christine Chubbuck, a reporter who committed suicide on a live news broadcast in the 1970's. The film takes a look at all of the pressures in Christine's life that led her to making her fateful decision.
For such a film as this and the way it's told, the lead performance is key. Luckily for director Antonio Campos, he's got an always game performer in Rebecca Hall. Hall makes this movie her own and carries it on her back (after all she's in almost every single scene.) Right from her first line, I was mesmerized to see a Rebecca Hall completely different from any performance I had ever seen from her before. This is a woman who is so wound up by all the pressures in her life and always needing to be perfect that you can see she's close to losing it at any second. In fact, after awhile all the pressures she's dealing with start to weigh on the audience as well.
Christine is a solid film that is anchored by an incredibly strong performance from its star. There are fascinating scenes throughout, and the ever-changing tone somehow always feels right. The film switches from personal portrait to inside look at journalism so often, but somehow it works. Another thing the film gets completely right is the look of the 1970's. It looks so authentic, it almost feels like the movie was made in the 70's. Unfortunately, since there's so much setup to the final act we know the movie is based on, it tends to meander a bit toward the end. You get the sense that the filmmakers had so much they wanted to include before the finale, they weren't always willing to cut it...even if it would better serve the story. That said--when we finally do get to that finale, even knowing what I was going to see and how it would end...the film still manages to pack a really powerful punch. A couple movies I've seen at this year's festival seemed like they didn't know exactly how to end their movies, but Christine's final scene is perfect. It really leaves a mark on the viewer and poses the question of how tragedy (whether close to us, or something we experience through voyeruism) affects us.