"Christine" is the Unforgettable True Story of Christine Chubbuck


“Christine”, not to be confused with the Stephen King story and subsequent movie, is the shocking and heartbreaking true story of Christine Chubbuck, a woman fighting her internal and external demons in the broadcast news business of the 1970s.  This film was directed by Antonio Campos, who previously directed the amazing 2008 film “Afterschool”.

Rebecca Hall plays the title role of Christine a news reporter for a small station in Sarasota Florida.  Christine lives with her mother after an incident at her previous job in Boston sent her packing.  She obviously has some mental health issues, but in the 70s this was extremely hidden and taboo to talk about openly, and still is to some extent.  On her time off Christine performs puppet shows at the local children’s hospital.  These shows look to be an emotional outlet for her as she uses these characters to express her deepest feelings to the only people that actually pay any attention and listen to her.

Working in a white male-dominated industry Christine is a tough as nails workaholic.  Always itching to do more important she is constantly given demeaning cream puff stories.  That station on the other hand is struggling to find and keep its viewers.  They must start to subscribe to the new “if it bleeds it leads” concept of journalism if they plan to stay in business.  Christine also begins to have severe abdominal pains which she tries to brush off as stress, but this eventually leads her to a doctor's office.  She will need an operation to remove a cyst along with one of her ovaries, making it difficult to get pregnant in the future.  The overarching theme of loneliness is present in every scene she is in.  Christine is not an easy person to get to know and comes off quite cold and standoffish.  She has a crush on the lead anchor George, played by Michael C. Hall of Dexter Fame.  George is a nice guy, but kind of dumb.  He is obviously not as outlandish as Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy, but you can see a sliver of it now and again.

Christine buys a police scanner in hopes of tracking down juicier stories and runs out to a fire in the middle of the night and captures this emotional and ironic story of an older man who won’t stop smoking even though his house has burned down more than a few times.  She is proud and excited about this new work and upon bringing it to her boss is shot down for not shooting the fire itself.  Christine starts to spiral down a familiar path as she argues with her mother, who has found a new boyfriend.

Bob Anderson the station owner is looking for two people to work at a much bigger station in Baltimore and this looks to be the big break Christine has been looking for.  She has also started to become friendlier with George, first at a drunken Fourth of July party, then a bit later he asks her out to dinner.  At the end of this dinner, he brings her to this new age support group for people to work through their problems, which was a little strange.  To boost her profile for the possible promotion Christine fakes a flat tire in order to talk to Bob at his home.  She also requests to be a co-anchor for a trial run from the station director in which she is constantly feuding with and surprisingly he agrees.  Although Christine hears that George has been selected for the promotion and he doesn’t choose her to go with him.  This is the last straw and something breaks in Christine’s psyche.  She’s thinking that everyone is against her and is bound for a lonely barren existence for the rest of her sad pitiful life.  So she buys a gun she was looking at earlier on, a .38 snub nose.  The day comes for her big on-air time and there is a technical problem leaving her on air with nothing to say, so she reads a prepared statement of her own, takes the gun out of her bag, and shoots herself in the head on live television.  She briefly makes the news herself and the sad tragic story of Christine Chubbuck comes to an end.  

“Christine” is a powerful character study of a woman who was chewed up and spit out by a society that refused to change.  It's also an early indication of how important a person's mental health is and how we treat each other.  Christine was by no means a bad person, she worked tirelessly in the hopes of making a difference.  In hopes of being listened too and recognized as a valuable and worthwhile person.  The story of Christine Chubbuck cannot be easily forgotten after watching this film.