Kate Plays Christine -- that seemed to prove above all else how difficult and sometime pointless documentary film-making can be, the new narrative movie CHRISTINE succeeds beautifully in bringing to life a life that most of us (if we'd heard of Christine Chubbuck at all) knew only for the single act that "put her on the map."
The Witness, that managed, at long last, to give us a look at Kitty Genovese in a manner that opened up her life into something much richer than the mere victim she'd seemed to have been down the decades since her murder. Rather than exploiting, both films honor their subject.
As directed by Antonio Campos (shown at left), written by Craig Shilowich (shown below) and
Rebecca Hall (shown on poster, top, and further below) -- in what is, so far, the role of her career, Christine succeeds in creating a time (the mid-1970s), a place (a local TV station in Florida), and people (workers, friends, family, interviewees) that come together to form the kind of spot-on reality that narrative movies rarely get near.
This is the first attempt at screenwriting for Mr. Shilowich (shown at right), and as such it is not simply good, it's rather phenomenal.
The writer has packed in so much, and all of it germane, fascinating, and very warts-and-all in terms of not only Christine herself but of those around her. This allows us to see the positives and negatives clearly and to come surprisingly close to understanding who Christine was and how her surroundings worked with her personality to determine what happened.
Michael C. Hall, below).
The Newsroom. (Or even better, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is used quite cannily and sadly here.) Campos' entire cast -- which include Tracy Letts (below, right) as Christine's adversarial boss, J. Smith-Cameron as her alternately helpful and trying mom, Maria Dizzia as her best friend who has her own necessary ambitions, and John Cullum, as the TV station's money man -- is first rate. There are no villains here, and no heroes, either. Just people living and working as best they can -- and doing a pretty good job of it, considering the circumstances.
The Orchard and running 119 minutes, opens this Friday, October 14, in New York City exclusively at Film Forum. Elsewhere? Sure hope so, and as soon as further playdates becomes available, I'll post them here.