Robert Greene's film KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE strikes me as an almost perfect example of what I'd call a relatively new and very narrow genre subset: the Aren't we-clever Brooklyn movie. This is probably not fair to Brooklyn or movies in general, but so be it. The film tackles the distressing subject of suicide and how to examine this from an honest POV, but then bangs you over the head with its "findings," even as it very nearly bores you to death in the process. (I am told that nobody in the film actually lives in Brooklyn, including its director. But the film reminds me of Bklyn at its most pretentious.)
Actress, another overpraised film that TrustMovies expected to cover but had to refrain from doing so because, at the press screening I attended, the film's start was delayed so long, due to having to wait for the critic from (I believe) The New York Times. So I had to leave ten minutes before the finale in order to arrive on time for my next screening. One does not fairly review a movie one hasn't seen the whole of, but from what I did see of Actress, I found both the subject and the film made around her much less interesting than did the filmmaker.
Kate Lyn Sheil (above) -- whom I've enjoyed to a point in a few other films, and in the Netflix series House of Cards -- both plays and investigates the history and personality of that TV host, Christine Chubbuck (shown below). The film's credits list Mr Greene as its writer, and that would seem to include much of the dialog placed in the mouth of Ms Sheil, who did not seem, to me at least, to always be improvising or even creating her own in-the-moment dialog. This may be because Greene is on record as saying that, as concerns documentaries, "The only way to get the the truth is layering constructed truths and leaving them unresolved." Which seems to be what he has done here. Oh, yes: It is all very self-reflectively "meta" -- but more Metamucil than anything else.
Rebecca Hall does with the same role in the full-out narrative drama, Christine, scheduled for release this October.)
New York Times Art & Leisure section, the filmmaker notes that he wants the film to actually cave in on itself, under the weight of the questions it asks. "It has to fall apart to work." Greene certainly has achieved the falling-apart part. His film does not work as documentary, as narrative, nor as anything else except perhaps as a trying, tiring exercise. The film's ending would seem to want to implicate us viewers -- but succeeds in implicating the filmmaker and his star instead.
Grasshopper Film and running a rather lengthy hour-and-52-minutes, Kate Plays Christine opens tomorrow in New York City at the IFC Center and then on September 16 in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Noho 7. Elsewhere? A few cities are on the docket. Click here then scroll all the way down to click on Where to Watch.