A Movie. A Day. A Year. Day 13: Christine

This is not the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. This is the biopic about Christine Chubbuck, the woman struggling with depression when she took her own life on camera in 1974. There are only two films about this: Christine and Kate Plays Christine, which about an actress taking on the role of the reporter for a different film.

This is not a light movie obviously. It’s a shame that this movie got little notice or fanfare when it came out, for it has an unflinching look at depression and suicide. The final act, and the final few minutes of the film pulls no punches. It is not a glorious repose into nothingness. It is bloody, tear-filled and lonely. The survivors are left with the questions that will never be answered.

As someone who does struggle with depression, and has recently contemplated suicide, I questioned whether or not I should discuss this film. I know at some point, I would have to because it’s in the collection. This is A Movie. A Day. A Year. It’s not A Movie (that we should be able to handle without breaking down in tears). A Day. A Year. The fact that this is the thirteenth movie I am reviewing is not lost on me.

I completely understand and empathize with Christine’s situation. I have had moments like that where I feel as if I am drowning, and the people that should be helping onto shore are the people shoving me back into the water. Her life unfolds in the film as a graceless slow-motion wreck. One by one, everything that she has based her very existence upon is taken from her. From her job to her very identity as a woman, all of these things are stripped from her and we’re left with the single raw nerve. She lashes out at others, amping herself up with anger only to have the energy drop out from under her to leave her a peeling husk. She tries to push on, but for every step she takes, something shoves her back three.

Watching this movie was an uncomfortable experience, but a necessary one. In the reel in my head, everything stops at the suicide. The pain, the loneliness, the exhaustion is now not a factor. With Christine we see the aftermath. We watch the confused and grieving parent, who watched the event as it happened. We see her suicide note handled as cold evidence. We see people panicking and trying to deal with this in their own way. I am lucky in that I found a network of people willing to assist me, to get me back on a shaky track, but a track nonetheless. Christine Chubbuck – sadly know only for the one thing she despised – had no such support group. This film is her fictionalized final say. It is a watershed moment in one woman’s life, and for the nation.

It is uncomfortable. It hurts to watch. It needs to be seen.



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