This film follows Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) and her time of working in a small news outlet during the 1970s. She endures constant personal and professional lack of fulfillment with an unrequited love for the anchor, George (Michael C. Hall), as well as having to work on stories she sees are unimportant from her boss, Michael (Tracy Letts), and those stories she does values are constantly criticized. In the wake of such criticism she’s asked to bring more “blood and guts” to her nightly field reports which eventually has her come up with the brilliant idea of attempting to kill herself live on air.
This film feels like the sort of film that is anti-spoiling, not just because the final stinger is actually the selling point of the story, but also because it’s a film that wants you to know where it’s heading from the outset and we’re strapped in for a sad trainwreck of a ride that you are angry that you can’t get off. It’s not that watching someone, and remember we’re talking about a real person that existed, fall into depression and be in such a harsh place in their lives that they believe taking their own life is an option is my idea of a fun two-hours; but rather it becomes fascinating to watch the system that allows this to happen do it’s work.
Christine navigates the world of Chubbuck in a way where we’re never blaming Christine for her mental state. Oddly though it’s not until the curtain’s drawn and you’re on your way to the next thing with this movie still in the back of your mind that you’re actually thinking of what really could be to blame for these series of unfortunate events. Chrsitine remains a sympathetic character that we empahtize with. We understand the desire to do better at your job and to also excel by bringing not just great stories, but stories you yourself would want to see brought to the forefront of the media. There are scenes that play like a lot tamer versions of Broadcast News with producers and editors rushing to make last minute changes to broadcast footage as Christine slides in to the newdesk at the very last moment and you feel the win. It’s all undercut though by her superiors giving very little praise to what she’s done other than they had another show done and dusted. It’s amazingly distraught.
A couple years ago we all marvelled over Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler and his own spiralling into madness in that same system. He continued to be praised and rewarded for making bad decisions all for the sake of blood and guts. The difference between this movie and Nightcrawler is that in Nightcrawler Louis Bloom is our hero, almost, in that movie. We are watching him succeed and though he’s not a person to aspire to it’s actually his saving that this system picks him up. Here in Christine our main character is lost in the system. She sees the walls closing in as she continues to try and do something she believes will bring her success and because it’s anti the demand of those dripping guts on screen it swallows her whole. However, in both cases it’s a study of watching two differing types of people and how they respond to a system we already despise for how it brings out the worst in people.
Christine is a film that asks us to decide what it is we really want in our media. Do we want the negatively spun world of death and hate that keeps us angry and takes the people who look into it to the darkest places? Or do we want it to be real and relevant to what really matters?