Antonio Campos’s film Christine bears no resemblance to the Stephen King film adaptation, but it is, in its very own way, very much a horrific story. Christine is based on the infamous true story in which 1970s TV news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) took her own life, live on air with a handgun she smuggled into the news room.
Antonio Campos’ film doesn’t try to work out why Christine Chubbuck shot herself live on air, but instead show her life up until that tragic event. Brilliantly played by Rebecca Hall, Campos’s character study (working on a script by Craig Shilowich) fleshes out the character Christine as a rather standoffish, unapproachable type, these behavioural traits deeply affected the quality of the relationships Christine had with others, arguably leading to her eventual suicide. The film shows the importance of close and intimate relationships, and Christine’s inability to grasp a hand of friendship becomes a major cause in her feelings of extreme loneliness which was compounded by her lack of romantic relationships, for example nothing ever materialised out of her long standing crush on co-worker George Ryan (Michael C. Hall).
Rebecca Hall is superb in the role, she shows Christine’s ambition and elicits strong levels of sympathy for a woman who struggles to grow relationships with others, this not only affects her mental wellbeing but also her chances of promotion at work, another source of stress for Christine as she feels she isn’t being recognised for her talents, perhaps pulled back by the sexist attitudes of a male dominated environment. Christine’s constant criticism of herself and inability to accept compliments also adds further pressures on her working life as she’s too quick to blame herself.
It’s a sensitive performance by Rebecca Hall for a character who really deserves our sympathy and whilst the film does present her as a person who is not always easy to approach, it remains a sensitive examination of depression and loneliness caused by one’s inability to form close social bonds with others. Craig Shilowich’s script also does a fine job respectfully fleshing out Christine’s character and whilst it doesn’t lend enough importance to Christine’s romantic loneliness, it remains a deep discussion of bi-polarism and depression.