Antonio Campos (Afterschool, Simon Killer) directs this chilling character study of real-life Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall), narrating the events before she committed suicide on live television in 1974.
"If it bleeds, it leads." It's this sentiment that Christine Chubbuck, a Sarasota, Florida news reporter, evoked when she committed suicide on live television on July 15, 1974. The latest film from director Antonio Campos (Afterschool, Simon Killer) and the Borderline collective, the team behind such films as Martha Marcy May Marlene (TIFF 2011) and James White (TIFF 2015), Christine is a nuanced character study that, while delivering the intensity that has come to define Campos' work, brings a softness that signals his directorial evolution.
Approaching her 30th birthday, Christine (Rebecca Hall) dreams of success in both her professional and personal life. Typically assigned to cover community interest fare for her news station, she longs for the chance to tackle something more substantial. Christine refuses to compromise the integrity of her reporting in favour of the station's new directive for "juicier" stories, and makes a series of earnest but unsuccessful pitches to her producer. In stark contrast to her relentless professional persona, she is unable to even ask anchorman George Ryan (Michael C. Hall) out for coffee. With one disappointment after another, and with her social outlets limited to her mother and the children at the local shelter where she volunteers, Christine embarks on a dark path.
Though we know how it will end, Campos imbues our journey with suspense and an unsettling mood, and we are drawn in further by Hall's mesmerizing performance and Scott Kuzio's vivid production design. Demonstrating control and sensitivity, Campos and screenwriter Craig Shilowich skillfully avoid sensationalizing Christine's suicide. In offering their explanation of what might have driven her to her death, they paint a thoughtful picture of the woman she may have been, in the process honouring her life.