(Be warned… there’s kind of a spoiler below.) The question that many people seem to be asking about this biopic drama – which depicts a brief period in the life of Florida TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, ending with a shocking recreation of her on-screen suicide – is whether it should have been made at all; or, put another way, why bring up this sad event if all you’re really doing is reigniting the age-old ethical arguments surrounding the “if it bleeds, it leads” edict of TV news reportage? These have informed many more insistent, showy dramas and satires over the years, after all.
I must admit to not having a particularly strong opinion about all of that myself – I can’t manufacture outrage because a film in 2017 happens to cover a shocking incident that happened in America 40 years ago, because mining sad true-life stories has been routine for American blockbusters and indies for longer than I care to imagine – so all I can really add is that Christine is a strong, evenly-paced work that recreates the period well enough, and is mostly sympathetic towards the character of Chubbuck, who is played with deft skill by Rebecca Hall (who should have been nominated for a blah blah fuckety blah). Tracy Letts and J. Smith-Cameron are also very good in supporting roles as Chubbuck’s boss and mother respectively. It’s well-observed and sad, which of course is the very least it should be, and it is elevated by the lead performance. Well worth seeking out, unless of course you had some sort of close relationship to Chubbuck or her family. Surely they are the only people who legitimately get to be upset by this film’s existence? Everything else just seems like ungenuine critical posturing to me. (****)