Sunday, October 16, 2016
Have A Blast With "Christine," Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don't let the campiness of the headline fool you, girls; this movie is no walk in the park. Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself on air in Sarasota , Florida, the morning of July 15, 1974, has not been in such vogue since....well.....her stunt. Now, there is this narrative film, starring Rebecca Hall in a devastating performance, and an upcoming documentary called "Kate Plays Christine," which explores an actress, Kate Lynn Sheil, preparing to play this very difficult role.
Hall's performance is the grabber, along with some good work by Tracy Letts and J. Smith Cameron. Maybe because of personal experience--losing two friends to suicide, and my own feelings of loneliness during a period when I expected to be single forever--Hall made me feel Christine's pain to a greater degree than others. I was crying and upset, before the movie was halfway done.
What Christine's final act represented--to the world, to our culture, to herself, is never explored in enough depth. The film gives the superficial drama of a troubled woman, cloaked by a group of top flanking actors, doing their best work, but never offers up any conclusions of its own. One might just cavalierly say the film leaves the viewer to draw his or her own, but that is not good enough. I wanted to fill in the dots about Christine--what happened in Boston that keeps being alluded to, but is never explored, what kind of upbringing she had, or siblings, what her school experiences were like, and how this utterly gifted woman was able, in spite of demons, to carve degrees of success out for herself. Yes, the movie might have been longer, but it would have been worth it, to get to know Christine better. Only a glimmer is given here, made to seem more substantial by Hall's compelling performance, but from a dramaturgical point, it really isn't all it might have been. Now, if Tracy Letts had written it......
But that is conjecture. Still, I want to warn you, dolls, the act IS shown in what, for me, was the most uncomfortable sequence to watch since the murder scene in 1994's "Heavenly Creatures." It does not last as long as the latter, but plenty is seen. Look at Hall's eyes as she delivers the speech; it is like looking into a person's hell.
Perhaps the film is doing a service in firing up people's knowledge for more about Christine. In exploring her, perhaps can be found better ways to help those like her--and they are out there--be prevented from going down Christine's path.
And, darlings, even if you see it for your own, emotionally cathartic reasons, I would not recommend a second viewing.