The owner of the company that cut the film's trailer, Robert "Smitty" Smith at In Sync Advertising, was an actual intern at WXLT-TV who knew and was friends with Christine Chubbuck. He sought out the job when he found out about the film and saw it at Sundance; incidentally, the creators had tried to seek him out for interviews during the research phases, but were unable to locate him due to the ubiquity of his name. See more »
The Sony television in Christine and her mom's living room is a model clearly from no earlier than the late 1970s. See more »
A moving film about depression with a fantastic lead role
I'm going to write this review as if you had not heard the sensational and tragic story of Christine Chubbuck. If you are unfamiliar with Christine's story then I suggest you do not read into it before seeing this film. I shall reveal very little of it here.
The story concerns the real life story of Christine Chubbuck, a reporter in Florida in the 1970s. As an opportunity opens up at a bigger news station, Christine finds herself attempting to adopt the station manager's sensationalist approach to the news. The film details her struggle with depression and it's impact on her personal life and work.
The depression is seen as both the result and cause of Christine 's difficulty in connecting with others. Many characters throughout the film reach out to her only for her to pull away. The cyclical nature of depression is all too familiar but what's interesting here is that each character who reaches out to Christine is well meaning but insist on viewing her depression in their own way instead of actually speaking with Christine.
At one point Christine screams "why is no one listening to me?!" and it's true. No one listens to Christine. Her mother is certain that she just needs a man. The anchor on her news show is certain she just needs therapy. Her friend at the station is certain that she just needs ice cream. Everyone is so quick to offer possible remedies and solutions that Christine is actually overlooked.
This is exemplified in the "Yes, but" game as seen in the trailer for the film. In the game the speaker tells the listener their problems. The listener then suggests a solution to which the speaker replies "yes, but" and points out the issues with that solution. The idea may be to get to the heart of the speaker's problems or for them to simply run out of problems and start thinking about solutions but the effect is clear. The issues and concerns of the speaker are being dismissed, one by one. Often with just a few words.
This portrayal of the isolating effects of depression is very affecting. We see Christine attempt to bury herself in work, buying a radio scanner to listen in on police frequencies in an attempt to find the gruesome story she needs to gain recognition. As we see her hunched over her notepad listening to two police officers brag about sexual conquests, we can see the cracks starting to appear.
The entire film hinges on Rebecca Hall's ability to play a character who is simultaneously spiralling out of control and deeply sympathetic and fortunately she accomplishes this extremely well. She is magnetic to watch even as she shrinks into the backgrounds of the scenes in which Christine finds herself. Her awkwardness and frustration are told through tiny movements and gestures.
The film takes some liberties with the real life of Christine Chubbuck. Some people on her life have been omitted and some incidents have been made to occur later than they actually did for dramatic effect. However if you walk into this film without knowing how Christine's story ended then I am sure you will be as shocked as the world was back in 1975 and hopefully you will reflect on how you personally react to depression, in yourself and others. If you're anything like me you will emerge from the cinema desperate to know more about this enigmatic and tragic young woman.
The film is a very tense and uncomfortable slow burn with some surprisingly funny moments. Performances are excellent all round but this really is Hall's show and is an excellent showcase for her talents as a screen presence.
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