|'Campos infuses his film with the discomfort, anxiety and frustration of the title character: it's likely that you'll find Christine's high-strung paranoia burrowing its way into your own mind before long as you watch'.|
Perhaps most importantly when telling the true story of a local news reporter who ended her life on live TV in 1974 by putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger, director Antonio Campos ensures Christine is never exploitative. Campos deftly handles the many distressing episodes in Christine Chubbuck's (Rebecca Hall) life with sensitivity and respect, whilst also never being coy about the events leading up to her suicide. The director takes his time, spending much of the opening hour measuredly putting the different elements of Christine's life in place. It can make the first half of the film feel uneventful at times, especially in comparison with the second; but it's a decision which ensures that your investment in Christine is genuine before the film's more emotive sequences arrive.
That Campos continually resists both maudlin sympathy for his subject and feigning - or indeed forcing - understanding of why her life ended the way it did is key to Christine's sincerity as a biopic. A scene in which Christine is unexpectedly taken by a colleague to a self-help group provides the sole moment where she explicitly states the problems in her life, not to spell things out for the audience but to highlight just how disconnected Christine has become from the world. Vocalising her feelings to a complete stranger is just as ineffectual as never opening up to those she lives and works with every day.
The director's motivation here is instead an overriding sense of empathy, one which he achieves with increasingly impressive levels of success throughout. Campos infuses his film with the discomfort, anxiety and frustration of the title character: it's likely that you'll find Christine's high-strung paranoia burrowing its way into your own mind before long as you watch. A crowded, alcohol-fuelled 4th of July party at the home of her news station's owner is oppressive, uncomfortable and disorienting, making you want to exit the situation just as much as Christine clearly does.
Pivotal to Christine's success in achieving this is Hall's engrossing central performance. Hall transforms herself into Christine in a way that never feels like an impersonation, skilfully allowing her inner turmoil to rise to the surface in volatile fashion only once or twice. Perhaps the crowning achievement of Christine is the fact that, despite knowing how the story ends, Hall and Campos together make you hope against hope that things will actually turn out okay for Christine, whilst presenting you with a compelling narrative of why they ultimately did not.
Christine was released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 27th February 2017.