This came out the same time as Kate Plays Christine and was slammed, then I read some defenses of it, so thought it’d be instructive to watch both. And this one, the straight period-piece retelling of dead newswoman Christine Chubbuck’s final days, was worse than I’d feared, an unenlightening, 1970’s-fetishizing semi-drama leading to a foregone, unpleasant ending. Christine has a depressive history, has personal and family and work troubles, and tragically kills herself on air. Michaels Sicinski and D’Angelo argue that it’s not unethical, not exploitative – maybe so, but it struck a couple wrong notes with me. I kept thinking “sure, but what’s the point,” and then Kate Plays Christine was an entire feature about trying to find the point, and that played beautifully for me. Not a huge fan of Simon Killer either, I’ll be hesitant to watch another Campos joint (but damn, Sicinski says Afterschool is great).
The actors do an unusually good job with unexciting material, at least. Rebecca Hall is magnetic as Christine, despite the character being prickly and awkward. Tracy Letts, who’s wonderful in everything these days, is the boss, Timothy Simons from Veep is a coworker, and Michael “no relation” Hall (TV’s Dexter) a potential love interest.