- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Christine

| May 19, 2017

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Christine.

If you haven’t read my review of Kate Plays Christine already, I recommend reading that review as well. For the history to be understood, let me give a bit of a rundown. At Sundance in 2016, in a rare and bizarre occurrence, two different films concerning the subject of Christine Chubbuck premiered. One was this film, a narrative scripted film directed by Antonio Campos. The other was Kate Plays Christine, a “documentary” that I was not kind to when I was reviewing it. The question I have to ask myself is which one is better. And considering Kate Places Christine is on my list of the worst and offensive films ever made, the bar isn’t set all that high for this film.

Christine is directed by Antonio Campos. Campos is known for directing Afterschool and Simon Killer, both of which I am a fan. He also is a co-founder of Borderline Films which is responsible for both Martha Marcy May Marlene and Jame White, the latter being the second best film I saw in 2015. Needless to say, I am already a fan of Campos’ work. And not surprisingly, I was a fan of this film. The film has Campos’ style on it, that being a less than obvious style but still a memorable color scheme and a good use of silhouettes. And where the film does have problems, it is far better than Kate Plays Christine. And with that, I will be dropping the comparisons and will be judging this film solely on its own.

Firstly, I want to talk about the acting. It has the cast and makings to be a great ensemble but unfortunately, the cast is just good at best. However, Rebecca Hall, playing Christine Chubbuck, is a quite incredible performance. She portrays the character with such realism while also balancing the performance with the subtlety that makes the performance more human. I believe that the idea of depression is one of the hardest things to portray in film, and a film dedicated to depression and suicide almost rarely works. And where this isn’t even close to the best film on depression, Rebecca Hall does give a great performance that shines a light on depression in a realistic fashion. The rest of the cast does a good job particularly Michael C. Hall who gives another great performance, but in comparison to Rebecca Hall, everyone just seems to be on a lower level. Not that anyone gives a bad performance. I never found myself thinking anything was going badly, but it just didn’t stack up.

I think the film is good, but I think there are certain things stopping it from being great. One thing that Kate Plays Christine has over this film is that Christine doesn’t really say anything. Yes, Kate Plays Christine says something disgusting and perverse but it is still saying something. Whereas Christine primarily just presents the story from beginning to end. This is the biggest complaint that I’ve read about the film online. And at the end of the day, I do walk away from the film saying that it was an acceptable film about depression with a marvelous performance by the leading actress, but I probably won’t be revisiting this film anytime soon nor will I be recommending it heavily.

Another problem I have with the film goes back to the ensemble aspect of the film. You have all of these actors playing characters that I think at the end of the day don’t add much to the story. Everyone has a purpose to the film in the fact that every character adds to Christine Chubbuck’s depression, with the exception of Timothy Simons character who I don’t really understand the purpose in this film without the obvious “He existed so we included him” remark. Everyone else gives a small hit to Christine that adds to the depression over time and gets her to the ending. But with a film with this ensemble, you would expect each character to have a defined existence, but instead, everyone has the same purpose. To depress Christine Chubbuck.

The film in general is quite a bizarre experience to watch. If you are watching the film, you already know it will end with Christine Chubbuck killing herself. So the entire time you know that everything she is fighting for will ultimately be useless. All of the battles that Christine Chubbuck fights in this film that show what she stood for, you know don’t matter. In a strange way, it has a very miserable feel to it. The entire time you know that Christine is going kill herself so when things start looking up, you automatically start thinking “how is this going to go wrong”? One could argue that this is the point, as this is the exact thought process that one with depression will have. But I feel as though if that was the point, it wasn’t driven home quite as much as I would have wanted.

Overall this film acts as an anti-thesis to Kate Plays Christine. Antonio Campos’ Christine above all else feels as though it is dedicated to Christine. It shows what Christine stood for and what why it was important for her to fight for it. So you might not get a message from the film, but you will get what feels like an obituary. Where Kate Plays Christine ends up antagonizing Christine Chubbuck and her decision, Christine attempts to analyze what drove her to make this decision. And where Christine isn’t great, it is admirable what it is trying to do.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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