Christine Antonio Campos
Published Jan 25, 2016Director Antonio Campos' Christine tells the real-life story Christine Chubbuck, the 1970s TV news anchor whose harrowing tale also inspired the classic film Network. Without going into detail, Christine follows a similar trajectory to Network while avoiding the latter's fictional elements. It unfolds like a consecutive series of events, exactly as they happened in real life.
Rebecca Hall stars as the troubled Chubbuck, and she brings an impressive severity to the role as she rattles through work parties, becomes crushed by her own ambition, argues with her mother and struggles with the pains of a life-threatening ovarian cyst. A great deal of Chubbuck's stress stems from her work as a segment producer for a Sarasota, Florida cable news program.
While she's flailing to survive, however, her coworkers seem to exist in an entirely different movie. The perfectly recreated vintage news sets, along with the station's vibrant cast of characters, make Christine feel like a subtle, dramatic version of Anchorman at times.
Tracy Letts is reliably prickly as the ratings-obsessed station manager, while Michael C. Hall is the station's confused and egotistical anchor. As Jean Reed, Maria Dizzia is the only performer exhibiting any real warmth in the entire film. After a while, you start to wish it was about her.
And that's ultimately the trouble with Christine — those who don't know Chubbuck's story will likely find themselves tired out and bored by the time its explosive climax hits. After all, it's not the sort of story that can be built around levity.
On the other hand, the journey to the film's conclusion doesn't always feel worth it if you do know what's going to happen. We learn why Christine did what she did, sure, but her emotional state is more of a plateau throughout the film rather than a spiral. As such, the story begins to feel static, like the aesthetic of Network was combined with the "personal life" section of a Wikipedia page.
That said, Christine is a well-acted and great looking film that offers a heaping amount of creeping subtlety. How much you enjoy it will mostly depend on how patient you are. (The Orchard)