Something a little somber this week – somber but powerful.
Oh, and our Gorgeous Lady of the Blog Collab is Rebecca Hall for this very relatable and amazing turn as a depressed woman in desperate need of mental support.
The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.
Christine Chubbuck (Hall) is a 29 year old TV reporter living in Sarasota. Her speciality is human interest pieces with a positive spin that don’t go over too well with her boss Michael (Tracy Letts), who’s constantly trying to up the ratings with juicier pieces.
In between arguments with Michael, Christine spends most of her time secretly in love with her co-worker George (Michael C. Hall), who seems well-meaning if a little slippery. She’s also suffering from crippling stomach pains which she spends a lot of time ignoring. When she finally faces up to her health issues, she’s told she needs to have an ovary removed which will significantly reduce her chances of falling pregnant – and is probably not what most women want to hear in Christine’s position.
Back at work, she learns that the owner of her TV station is looking for talent to poach and take to the much fancier Baltimore (where I would live if I lived in America, thank you, John Waters). This prompts her to take Michael’s advice, buy a police scanner and go all Nightcrawler on everyone’s arse.
She does a little bit better and gets kudos from her workmates but Mike’s still not blown away by the calibre of her stories (some dude accidentally burning his house down three times), which leads them to have a fiery argument. When he chooses to go with a piece by Christine’s friend and colleague Jean (Maria Dizzia) instead of something Chris has been working on, she goes ballistic and brings up some personal stuff about Michael’s wife that almost gets her fired.
Did I mention through this that Christine lives with her mother, Peg (J. Smith-Cameron)? Well she does and there’s tension between them too, especially when mum takes a new lover. In a particularly heated exchange, the women discuss Christine’s past breakdown. I have a lot of time for Peg, who genuinely loves and worries for her daughter.
Things are looking pretty shitty for Christine but her luck takes a turn when George finally asks her on a date. She goes with a hopeful heart and thaws slightly, admitting to her crush that there are times she finds it hard to open up. The date goes well but takes an intriguing turn when George introduces Christine to a group therapy he himself swears by.
To Christine’s credit, she agrees to give it a go and finds herself opening up to a random woman from the group. The main take home from this is that Christine is still a virgin but has a desperate desire for biological children and a husband she loves.
On the drive home, George breaks it to Christine that he’s been chosen to go to Baltimore. She’s surprised but being a doer, comes up with a plan to persuade the TV station’s owner, Bob Andersen (John Cullum) to take her too. Pretending to get a flat tire outside his home (genius), Christine gains access before revealing who she is.
She learns from lovely old Bob that George has already vouched for another colleague to join him in Baltimore – and it ain’t our girl.
Not one to be kept down, Christine heads back into work the next day and asks for her bosses permission to do a piece. He agrees and Christine takes the Anchor’s desk, delivering her story with a tragic and explosive ending.
This is a sometimes slow burning study on depression at a time when there weren’t many resources for people to combat their mental issues. Depression and mental illness still had a stigma attached and this can only have contributed to Christine’s situation, one that is desperately sad, there’s no two ways about it.
It seems in Christine’s life, she had many people around her that cared but none of them knew how to help her and I’m just sorry about that.
I didn’t know anything about the real Christine so I can honestly say I didn’t see the ending coming. I was as open mouthed as her colleagues. All I can say is that she seemed like an interesting woman with very real frustrations and I wish things had been different for her.
Rebecca Hall is very good in this role, she made Christine likeable and relatable, which goes a long way in giving a shit about the story.
Again, this isn’t always the most dynamically paced piece but it’s fitting for the story and I enjoyed it.
4/5. I like this even if it is quite ploddy at times. I think films like this need to be made, the conversation surrounding mental health issues should never be silenced.