In the world of broadcast journalism, life can be a bit stressful. And in the ’70s, it was difficult being a broadcast journalist. It was a changing time, of course. A time when the realm of TV news was changing and the motto “if it bleeds, it leads” was making its way into the national consciousness. Real-life TV news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) was in the midst of it all, and among several other things, struggled with her own personal demons.
“Christine” starts off a year after the title character moves to Sarasota, Florida to join the news team at WTOG. She has a crush on colleague and news anchor George Ryan (Michael C. Hall), but he doesn’t seem interested in her romantically, and she distances herself from friend and coworker Jean Reed (Maria Dizzia), who only ever seems helpful and kind. Christine is defensive and guarded, keeping herself away from close, personal relationships, even while wishing she had close friendships and someone romantically, to the point where she creepily watches a young couple interact at a restaurant and approaches them to tell them how lovely they are.
It’s obvious that she suffers from depression and becomes increasingly aggravated from her lack of progression at work and lack of a love life. Christine is almost volatile and becomes even more depressed after finding out that she has a cyst in her ovary and that her chances of conceiving a child are slim after one of her ovaries is removed. All of this, in addition to the station’s move to wanting more “sensationalized” news stories (AKA, “if it bleeds, it leads”), drives Christine to the brink and culminates in her eventual suicide during a live television broadcast.
Director Antonio Campos and his team stay very loyal to the ’70s. From the costume designs, to the sets, to the actual technology used at the time, it’s all very accurate. Even the cinematography, with the nostalgic lighting and hues of yellows and browns, replicate the era very well and add authenticity to the film.
The performances are solid as well. Rebecca Hall really delves into her portrayal of Christine, right down to the way she talks. Michael C. Hall, Maria Dizzia, and the remainder of the cast offer strong support. However, it’s in the story and execution of events that the film falters a bit. Christine deteriorates slowly as the movie progresses, but you’re never given reasons why. It’s obvious that she’s depressed, but several of the points in the story only vaguely assess her mindset and seemingly quick deterioration. There are mentions of Boston and something that happened previously, but there’s never enough to grasp before it moves on to the next part of the film.
“Christine” never taps into the character-audience connection and you watch as Christine spirals, but you’re never emotionally attached to her to feel her despair entirely. The film is a bit on the dull side in its slow pace to be considered enthralling and although Rebecca Hall delivers a strong performance, “Christine” doesn’t quite pull you in.