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Film / Christine (2016)

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"So, now, in keeping with WZRB policy, presenting the most immediate and complete reports of local 'blood and guts', TV 30 presents what is believed to be a television first. In living color, an exclusive coverage of an attempted suicide."
- Christine Chubbuck (actual quote, reproduced in movie)

Christine is a 2016 film directed by Antonio Campos and starring two unrelated people named Hall: Rebecca Hall and Michael C. Hall.

Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) is a field reporter at small-time television station WXLT in Sarasota, Florida in 1974. Christine is driven and passionate and cares about her work—which turns out to be a problem. Station manager Michael Nelson (Tracy Letts), desperate to turn around the sagging ratings of the station, is demanding more sensationalistic stories, much to the disgust of Christine, who wants to do more substantive news reporting. This leads to violent arguments with Nelson.

Chubbuck has a variety of personal problems as well. A closed-off personality makes it difficult for others to approach her, which is part of the reason why she's still a virgin at age 29. An ovarian cyst is causing her excruciating pain, but may inhibit her ability to have children if she has it removed. And she is in unrequited love with WXLT's handsome, affable anchor George Ryan (Michael C. Hall). Worst of all, she has "moods", namely depression, and is no longer taking her medication. All these issues lead to a moment of crisis that causes Christine to make a tragic decision.

Based on the infamous true story of Christine Chubbuck, a WXLT reporter who committed suicide live on the air on July 15, 1974.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The real Christine, while certainly attractive, wasn't quite on the same level as Rebecca Hall, even with the latter affecting her awkward posture and abrasive manner.
  • Age Lift: According to contemporary sources, Mike was around Christine's age in real life (actually a few years younger) and Jean middle-aged, whereas in the film it's Mike that's middle-aged and Jean closer to Christine's age.
  • And Starring: "And John Cullum as Bob Anderson".
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Christine doing some acting as she shows Nelson her proposal for dramatic reenactments of crimes.
  • Based on a True Story: "Based on true events".
    • Christine is shown killing herself during the evening news broadcast. In fact, the real Christine Chubbuck committed suicide during her own mid-morning chat show, Suncoast Digest. Just before the show aired Chubbuck confused the crew by asking for a news digest to read from the anchor desk, instead of going straight to the interview as was regular practice. Her guest was still waiting in the interview set when Chubbuck killed herself after reading eight minutes of news.
    • In the movie Chubbuck is putting off the surgery to remove her right ovary. In real life she had the ovary removed a year before her suicide, although the problem with bearing children is thought to have contributed to her depression; doctors had told her the other ovary would likely need to be removed in a couple of years, rendering her infertile. She desperately wanted a husband and children, but was a 29-year-old virgin with no romantic prospects whose biological clock was ticking much faster than most women's.
    • The real Christine had a brother who also lived with her mother in a sort of "adult commune," and she had no apparent conflict with her mother, unlike in the film.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Nelson develops an obsession with getting high ratings for his station. His station goes nationwide following Christine's death.
  • Call-Back: Early in the film Jean tells Christine that when she's down, she likes to eat ice cream and sing. The end of the film has Jean eating ice cream and singing along to the theme of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • Call-Forward: Christine proposes an idea to film people living their real lives at home, something that sounds a lot like Reality TV. Nelson dismisses the idea, saying "they already tried that with An American Family", the PBS show that is in fact considered the Ur-Example of reality television.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Christine is calling her mother "Mom" at the start of the film but is calling her "Peg" as her depression worsens.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Christine has a desperate crush on George but can never bring herself to say it, not when he's halfway coming on to her at the 4th of July party and not when they're out to dinner.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An actual gun, as Christine interviews a gun dealer who repairs guns for the cops and also sells them. The revolver she looks at is the one she later uses to kill herself.
  • Close on Title: The title appears right before the credits roll.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: All the broadcasts are news stories designed to let the viewer know about the passage of time. The last scene has Jean turn on the TV to hear the beginning of a report about Ford's pardon of Nixon, dating the time to two months after Christine's death.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • While a 29-year-old virgin would be fairly uncommon in today's society, it's not a social death knell, and a woman that age being unmarried has ceased turning heads. At the time in the film, Christine was already long considered a hopeless spinster, with her goal of making a family seen as approaching the impossible regardless of her medical condition — no doubt contributing to her depression.
    • Ironically, the film ends with Jean singing along to the theme of The Mary Tyler Moore Show — a show that was extremely progressive in its time in showing a similarly single, childless woman around 30 dedicated to her career in television but also looking for love. That show was decidedly optimistic and hopeful, while Christine's story unfortunately doesn't get the same idealism.
  • Demoted to Extra: The real Christine had a best friend named Andrea, not appearing in the film. Andrea was secretly dating the man she knew Christine had a crush on, and Christine was devastated when she found out about the relationship.note  The film includes a character named Andrea who George requests to be transferred with him, but she doesn't play much of a role in the narrative and does not have a close relationship to Christine.
  • Driven to Suicide: Christine, depressed over a number of things, shoots herself on live television.
  • Downer Ending: See above. Though the director chose to end the film on a very small positive note, with Jean singing along to Love is All Around, a self-care regime she'd recommended to Christine earlier.
  • The End: It is shown after the credits.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The first scene shows Christine apparently interviewing Richard Nixon. In fact she's interviewing no one, just getting some footage recorded so she can see how she looks on the screen.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Those who know about Christine's suicide would know how the film is going to end.
  • Friend to All Children: Christine adores children and volunteers her time doing puppet shows at the children's hospital. She also expresses a strong desire to have children of her own someday, and this is why learning she's going to need an ovary removed as it has a cyst (which will make that more difficult) is very depressing for her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Averted; the camera, as in real life, doesn't move away from Christine shooting herself.
    • This trope is particularly unusual for a Biopic dealing with a person who famously committed suicide; most films of this nature tend to skip over the act of suicide, for fear of glamorization or provoking copycat incidents, but due to the nature of Chubbuck's suicide - that she wanted it to be broadcasted and televised - it seems somewhat proper that it should be depicted in graphic detail in the film, although the aftermath with all her devastated friends and relatives is depicted very soon afterward.
  • Hope Spot:
    • After agreeing to a dinner with George, we finally get to see Christine being genuinely happy. But everything goes downhill quick once we learn that George's intention is not a romantic one.
    • Christine actually survives the attempt initially, but only briefly, and passes away shortly after.
    • Christine does get her "juicy" story of a man who had caught on a fire and puts it on her segment, which everyone was impressed by (along with the fact the man survived). Mike's response? Not a juicy story. Suffice to say, Christine isn't happy.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Quoted word-for-word by Nelson as he urges his staff to get juicier news stories.
  • Irony: Rebecca Hall pointed out that there was an irony in Christine insisting on making proper, non-sensationalistic news stories with integrity, and then becoming famous because of (by her own volition) "blood and guts".
  • It Will Never Catch On: Christine has a number of ideas that Nelson is unimpressed by, but that have become very successful in modern TV, such as the genre of Reality TV, dramatic reenactments of crimes (now common practice in the True Crime genre), and her pitch for an in-depth investigative look at gritty stories reminiscent of 60 Minutes.
  • Japanese Ranguage: A throwaway gag in which the weather guy is complaining about a Japanese technician telling him that the circuits on the weather map computer are "flied".
  • Jerkass: Zig-Zagged between Nelson and Christine. In Christine's view, Nelson. He constantly berates her and tries to cheapen the news business she's devoted her life to. But in Nelson's view, this would be Christine: she's easily the smartest person at WZRB, but refuses to do what needs to be done (run more sensational stories that draw big ratings) to rescue the station that Nelson has invested a bunch of his own money into. In the end, both are trying to do what they love but it's obvious it's not working out on both their favors.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nelson has a point about the coverage of the fire story Christine presents - she ignores getting images of a potentially impressive fire in favour of a close up on a man. Nelson is also pushing Christine over learning the new technology. His advice about her stories is good, just badly expressed given their already tense relationship.
  • Just Friends: The sad thing is that George really does sincerely want to be Christine's friend, taking her out to a nice dinner and then to a group therapy class that he clearly hopes will help Christine. But when she realizes that he doesn't have any romantic interest in her and is in fact dating Andrea the sexy sports reporter, it's another trigger that drives her to suicide.
  • Kick the Dog: Nelson repeatedly does this to Christine. Granted he doesn't really mean to, see Jerkass Has A Point, but his behavior and how he treats Christine both times when she gets a "sensational story" (the fire story) and her substitute idea (the reenacting segments) really pushes her over the edge.
  • Lady Drunk: Nelson's wife, who is staggering and dropping her wine glass at the 4th of July party.
  • Mood Whiplash: A much darker kind. Just as Christine goes into the quote as stated above, she quickly pulls her gun and shoots herself. It throws off not just the characters around her, but the audience as well.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Deconstructed. All Christine wants is a husband and a baby, but her medical condition and lack of prospects make it a nigh impossible goal.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Christine commits suicide and is taken to the hospital, Nelson has this plastered on his face when reading Christine's suicide note and her thought-out plan. He also seems to endure this when he overhears the suicide tape once again.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: When Christine reveals at the therapy group that she's never even had sex, her partner is visibly taken aback and suggests she "manage [her] expectations" in her desire to have her own baby.
  • Noodle Incident: Peg mentions twice to Christine an incident at Boston that resulted with them leaving to Florida, due to Christine suffering one of her "moods".
  • No Social Skills: Christine tries hard to fit in, but her behavior frequently zigzags between awkward and abrasive, earning her few points with those around her. For example, on seeing an affectionate couple having dinner in the same restaurant as her, she goes up to them and asks them if they're in love, and on finding out that they are, she tells them that she's a reporter always looking for human interest stories, and they should get in touch with her. Then it dawns on her (from their expressions) that they might feel a bit weird being invited to appear on the news just because they're in love, and she awkwardly extracts herself from the situation.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • While he at least seems a little intrigued by his fiery co-worker, George completely misses Christine's crush on him.
    • Ironically, one of Christine's other coworkers appears to have a crush on her, but she doesn't seem to notice. He even asks her out to lunch the day of her suicide, at which point her mind's already made up.
  • Pink Mist: There's a splatter of blood on the news set wall behind Christine after she shoots herself.
  • Real Footage Re-creation: The film recreates Christine Chubbuck's on air suicide. The actual footage of the suicide is kept locked away so this recreation is as close as most people will come to seeing it (although the audio portion resurfaced in April 2021, most likely recorded off-screen by a third party).
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: According to those who saw the original broadcast, Christine was cool and emotionless and not hesitant before she committed suicide that fateful day, just as the film portrays.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Due to her Sanity Slippage, Christine delivers a pretty wrong one to Nelson when he rejects her proposal of doing reenactments and reveals Jean (Christine's friend) is already doing her own sensational story, causing her to accuse him of giving her hell because of his wife's drinking problems. Nelson doesn't take it lightly and is incredibly enraged that she uses that against him.
  • The Stoner: Christine's mother Peg, who leads a hippie life and likes to smoke weed on the porch. This causes conflict with her uptight daughter.
  • Sanity Slippage: Christine undergoes this hard as the movie progresses, from feeling unnerved by the change of news stories at the station, her feelings towards George, the fact if she doesn't get an ovary removed she won't be able to conceive, and of course her own struggling depression that eventually pushes her into suicide.
  • Self-Deprecation: Christine at times, but it really goes overboard when her depression grows.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "OH, WHY WON'T ANYONE JUST LISTEN TO ME!?"
  • Unexpected Virgin: The woman at a therapy group Christine attends and partners with looks visibly surprised after she reveals that she's a virgin at age 29. Christine's clearly unhappy with it herself.