Friday, November 11, 2016


Depression is a hard subject matter to tackle. By its very nature it makes any character suffering from the condition standoffish at best or, as is the case here, nearly unrelatable. The subject of director Antonio Campos' film is 70s Florida local news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall). As a character study of a person struggling with depression and paranoia, Christine works well-enough. But as a film it's difficult to see past the premise as anything other than Oscar-bait. Hall gives a great performance as a woman on the edge, but the sad fact about writer Craig Shilowich's script is we are never invested in what dark end is destined for her.

Based on a true story, Shilowich's script showcases Christine as a hack local newswoman unable to get along with co-workers or family with dreams of the big time Christine, at least on some level, likely understands she will never achieve. Unable to deal with her loneliness, the station manager's orders for more sensational stories, and a medical problem she refuse to share with anyone, Christine is on the fast track to ruin. What makes her story different is how public her downward spiral became.

Those intrigued by Hall (whose performance is worth noting) or with a more personal connection to clinical depression may get more out of the film than I did. Hall's version of Chubbuck is a completely unlikable character whose internal thoughts we are never privy to (only her selfish actions). Had her condition held her back from a promising news career that might have been a hook worth exploring, but there's nothing in what we see from her reporting that allows us to surmise she was anything more than middle-of-the-road local talent likely doomed to obscurity. There was simply nothing here for me to invest in which, despite Hall's performance and a fine supporting role by Michael C. Hall as the news anchor, made Christine a bit of a slog to get through.

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