Antonio Campos takes what easily could have been an exercise in anticipatory exploitation—and, according to this year’s coincidental documentary doppelganger Kate Plays Christine, perhaps inevitably must be—and instead turns it into a deeply engrossing character study. Rebecca Hall plays Christine Chubbuck, the Sarasota, Fla. local news reporter who famously shot herself on live television in 1974. Christine follows her for several weeks leading up to the incident, anchored by a phenomenal performance by Hall that captures the knot of profound insecurity—second guessing every on-air tic, abruptly stopping her sing-along to the radio when she thinks another driver might be watching her—creating a dangerous cocktail with her untreated depression. And Campos does a brilliant job of tying her emotional plight to this specific era, with women theoretically able to make career progress that Chubbuck can’t quite reach. The sly coda—making effective use of one of the 1970s’ most iconic TV shows—pulls the narrative in an unexpected direction, with more contextual punch than the grim tabloid-fodder event that granted Chubbuck a kind of immortality.
Director: Antonio Campos
Producer: Melody Roscher, Craig Shilowich and Sean Durkin
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J. Smith-Cameron, John Cullum, David Alexander, Kim Shaw, Timothy Simons and Morgan Spector