Christine full movie review - If it bleeds, it leads
I've noticed since this film came out that there's a lot of psychiatric labels getting thrown around about Christine Chubbuck, mostly from people who are using the DSM-5 handb
ook to try to find some sort of inherited illness to blame her actions on, especially bipolar, aspberger's and manic depression. This is the way we try to understand things like this in modern society. We try to find a chemical imbalance, we suggest that if she were medicated the outcome all would've been different, we suggest that she was born with a mental problem that drove her to her actions... but I think Christine was just an unfortunate product of her environment. She was definitely depressed, I don't think anybody can doubt that after what she did on live television. But I don't think she was bipolar, I don't think it was as simple as that. I think she had a lot on her plate, I think she was surrounded by all the underlying darkness behind the psychedelic Seventies, I think her competitive career was quite difficult to deal with and I believe that, albeit disturbing, Christine's actions were about making a statement about, to quote her final words, "blood and guts" in television.
"How can you be too sympathetic?" asks her colleague, Andrea, during the intro of the film as Christine is criticizing herself. Throughout the film, Christine displays a great deal of compassion, a love of children and a joy in doing positive human interest stories. As we all know though, the Seventies was quite a depressing era. We had the Cambodian Genocide, we had key parties, people doing drugs to ignore the sadness around them, the Vietnam War had just happened, times were changing, and the news was becoming more about sensationalism and exploitation. Maybe Christine just felt too much in an unfeeling world. As much as she tried to be cheerful, her career was requiring of her more and more to take advantage of the misery of others for ratings, and on top of that, she discovers that she will most likely never be able to have a baby of her own, the one thing she wanted more than anything else. It seems like nothing she does in the film is ever good enough for anybody else, and everybody has their own idea of what will help Christine's "moods", from anxiety pills to therapy to a bowl of ice cream. Everybody has their own way of coping that works for them, but nobody really knows Christine as a person outside of her career. I really felt bad for the weatherman, Steve, while I was viewing the film. Despite him being a minor character, he frequently tries the one thing that nobody else is doing - to just listen to her and understand her. "I've gotta agree with Christine on this one," he tells the station manager upon the idea of exploiting violence in the media. He offers to have lunch with her, he tries to talk to her, but at this point she has already formulated her dark plans. The final nail in the coffin for Christine is when the man she loves, George, is promoted over her and reveals that he loves the blonde secretary of the station over Christine, seeing her more as a co-worker than a romantic interest. This devastates Christine and finally she makes her ultimate decision.
The acting in this film is top-of-the-line; Rebecca Hall pulls off a difficult role with ease and makes it impossible to take your eyes off of her even throughout her final moments. This film is very authentic too, evoking Seventies nostalgia through the use of old newsroom equipment, super 8 film, bright Kodachrome-like colors and that great old retro music that today's autotuned pop crud just can't hold a candle to. I found myself crying in the end, not so much for Christine, but for the people she left behind. None of them truly understood her but they all loved her and admired her... too bad she didn't see it. They all experience shock and grief in such a harrowing and realistic way that is rare for films of the 21st century to display. Most films in this day and age that deal with this type of subject matter often fall to the level of a corny Lifetime movie, but Christine is hauntingly powerful and emotional, sometimes, even funny... and so human and real. It will make you feel like you were right there in the newsroom with her.
This film is without a doubt one of my favorite films of the decade, and instead of trying to analyze Christine with pop psychology, we should instead try to understand her surroundings and her life. We are too quick to label, misdiagnose and medicate the mentally ill. Maybe Christine just wanted a person to tell her, "I understand you and we can get through this together." There's such a stigma around mental illness that tells us "it's all in their heads, it's a chemical imbalance, pills and drugs will cure it all". We want to hide it away, not change the negativity in the world. As this film displays, Christine just wanted to bring a little cheerfulness into the world and she was told, "if it bleeds, it leads". She was sounding an alarm, we just didn't hear it in time. In 2017, the digital age, we feed off of negativity and tragedy, from exploitative talk shows to alarmist internet news. Social media has made it even easier for people to exploit the nice and innocent and naive. From Amanda Todd to internet trolling, negativity is thriving now more than ever - so we all need to learn from Christine Chubbuck, even if it's difficult to come to terms with why she would do such a thing. I am no expert on her, I never knew her, but anybody who views this film will realize that the real Christine Chubbuck had something to say.