The True Story of Christine Chubbuck

in 34th Torino Film Festival

by Gianlorenzo Franzi

Christine tells the true story of Christine Chubbuck, the American journalist who’s suicide on live TV inspired Sidney Lumet’s Network. Here, as there, what is at stake is the public intrusion into the private sphere. Antonio Campos, however, focuses on the staff around the film’s protagonist and offers a personalized style and point of view. Throughout the first part he stuns the viewer as he plunges into the soul of the bipolar journalist, alternating flashes of elation and depths of depression. The film brings to mind Pablo Larrain’s masterpiece Jackie which also uses its protagonist as a symbol and metaphor. Campos does not choose a conventional storytelling, and does everything to displace and shatter the peace of mind of the viewer. The performance of Rebecca Hall as Chubbuck adds specific weight to the film, which slows down in its second half. It is as if the film is apprehensive of accompanying the woman all the way to the sacrificial altar that was the airing of her last news segment. Christine eventually appears as the victim of the journalistic sensationalism that began to catch on in those years, perhaps due to the effect of the Kennedy assassination on live TV. But, as we all know, the information provided by the media is nothing more than the mirror of who we are or who we want to be. The need to appear on the screen in order to really exist, the idea of fame as a form of personal and existential affirmation, are huge issues that open grave questions. These questions are, shrewdly, not answered by Campos, who planted little clues to give the public the opportunity to deal with them on their own. And this is why, despite the blatant mental instability of Christine, as a spectator one is involved to the point of overshadowing her psychological status from any form of judgment, even siding with this wretched soul and always looking for a peace that she could never find. Christine is neither a biopic nor a simple documentary work, but work that reflects and explores the memory of a woman whose only purpose was to “defeat pragmatic mortality” and achieve a utopian, dreamy, unreal immortality.

Edited by Yael Shuv