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Christine - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: A-
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

Normally I would argue that certain spoilers make no difference in a movie "based on real events." If it's part of the historic record, how could it be a spoiler? Well, I feel differently about Christine, because I would love to know what it was like to watch this movie without knowing where it was headed. It was pretty shocking even with the knowledge at hand, but had I not known what Sarasota, Florida news reporter Christine Chubbuck would end up doing, the movie would have seriously thrown me for a loop.

So: I'm not going to tell you what happened. You can Google the woman if you want. Or, you can watch this movie without knowing, and get the experience that I didn't have. That's not to say, necessarily, that the movie must be viewed one way or the other. The filmmakers likely held the assumption that plenty of people already know who Christine Chubbuck was. Perhaps not a majority of people, at this point -- we're talking about a local news incident in Sarasota in 1974.

Until the shocker of an ending, however, Christine seems pretty run-of-the-mill. Chubbuck is depicted as focused and ambitious but misguided in her story pursuits, at least in terms of how to achieve her ambitions. Her boss gives her key advice: "If it bleeds, it leads." Her response to covering a local fire is then to interview the homeowner's burned face in close-up rather than get any coverage of the fire itself.

She covers local stories that aren't terribly interesting, which unfortunately keeps Christine the movie itself from being terribly interesting. We do see the somewhat awkward relationships in her life, particularly those with colleagues played by Michael C. Hall (as the lead news anchor), Veep's Timothy Simons (as the weather man), and Maria Dizzia (as the camera operator). All of these people, even Christine's mother, Peg (J. Smith-Cameron), with whom she lives, make attempts at making some kind of human connection with her. She retreats from people reaching out to her and buries herself in her work.

Christine didn't bore me, but I could see it boring other people, at least until the final scenes. I was compelled, at least, by the performances, particularly that of Rebecca Hall, who is excellent as Christine, both driven and unsure at the same time. She and her mother have conversations vaguely alluding to behavior in Boston, where they lived previously. It becomes increasingly clear that Christine has some level of mental instability. She tells a doctor that she stopped taking a particular antidepressant because she didn't like how they made her feel. One can only imagine what such medications were like in the early seventies.

The movie is still playing at Sundance Cinemas here in Seattle, but I'd only recommend it to the people who like to see different, independent movies -- when nothing better is playing. (Seriously, your highest priority should be Moonlight.) Or, wait for Christine to be available streaming on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon, and give it a go. You might feel differently than I did if you watch it with less knowledge of the direction of the story. The sudden shock of its ending, and how it's depicted, does make the film better overall -- so it's worth sticking with if the story up to then seems somewhat dull. But the difference it makes is probably better without knowing exactly what's coming.

Rebecca Hall takes the viewers in a surprising direction in CHRISTINE.

Overall: B
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