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Sundance: Rebecca Hall Astonishes in the Otherwise Cold ‘Christine’ (Review Roundup)

Sundance: Rebecca Hall Astonishes in the Otherwise Cold 'Christine' (Review Roundup)

Rebecca Hall stars as an ambitious TV reporter in 1970s Sarasota in “Christine,” written by Craig Shilowich and directed by Antonio Campos (“Simon Killer,” “Afterschool”). The film, which debuted in the the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance to cautiously positive reviews, follows Christine through the final months of her life, as social isolation and professional frustration (including her station’s shift toward sensationalism) precede her shocking demise.

Though it boasts an impressive supporting cast, including Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) as Christine’s co-anchor, Maria Dizzia (“Orange is the New Black”) as a camerawoman, and J. Smith-Cameron (“Rectify”) as her mother, “Christine” may be most notable as a chance for Hall — so terrific in “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” among other projects — to sink her teeth into a juicy lead role, and it’s she who’s won critics’ admiration. 

“Christine” is produced by Melody C. Roscher and Craig Shilowich (The Wonderclub), and executive produced by Borderline Films’ Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”) and Josh Mond (“James White”), with Robert Halmi, Jr. and Jim Reeve (Great Point Media). UTA and WME are handling sales. The film is still seeking a distributor. 

Read excerpts from Sundance reviews of “Christine” below.

READ MORE: “Sundance: The Most Infuriating Way to Respond to Their ‘Christine,’ According to Rebecca Hall and Antonio Campos” 

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:
“An expertly crafted noir-like depiction of Chubbuck’s descent into psychological duress, Campos’ grim character study makes up for an occasionally stifling icy tone with a stunning lead performance by Hall, who turns the would-be suicidal anchor into a figure worthy of empathy rather than outright pity.”

Guy Lodge, Variety:

“Far from the austere death march it might threaten to be on
paper, this is a thrumming, heartsore, sometimes viciously funny character
study, sensitive both to the singularities of Chubbuck’s psychological collapse
and the indignities weathered by any woman in a 1970s newsroom. Invigorated by
a top-drawer ensemble, with Rebecca Hall discomfitingly electric in the best role
she’s yet been offered, this should easily become Campos’ most widely
distributed work to date.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:
“Having touched on the dark power of video technology in his previous features, ‘Afterschool’ and ‘Simon Killer,’ Campos goes deeper into that territory here, working for the first time from a screenplay by another writer, Craig Shilowich. The result is a peculiar film — chilly and uncomfortable, but also steeped in a sly sense of irony. The prickly humor makes some scenes play almost like a ‘King of Comedy’-type riff on media culture, fashioned into an extremely muted workplace comedy. That creates some tonal uncertainty in the first hour,
especially given the amount of time it takes to reveal the pathos in Hall’s
brittle characterization. But the movie gets on firmer ground once the
disappointments and frustrations start mounting up, and Christine’s gnawing
ambition inexorably gives way to a sudden fatalistic awakening.”

Nigel Smith, The Guardian:

“Hollywood has never seemed to know quite what to do with Rebecca
Hall. The stunning British actor came to the industry’s attention with a
scene-stealing turn in Christopher Nolan’s magician thriller ‘The Prestige,’ shortly followed by a juicy role in Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona.’ But
since her arrival, Hall has largely languished with supporting roles in films
that in no way prepare you for the breadth she displays in director Antonio
Campos’s tragic character study, ‘Christine.'”

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com:
“The biggest problem with ‘Christine’ is how much of it feels
like it’s trying to ‘explain’ who Christine was and what pushed her to shoot
herself, but it doesn’t help that the film is disappointingly flat when it
comes to style. Campos has shown flashes of brilliance when it comes to
imagery, but he directs ‘Christine’ straightforwardly, progressing from event
to event in Chubbuck’s life without building enough tension to the inevitable
conclusion. A lyrical or indirect approach might have worked, but a mere
retelling of events with an emphasis on the moments that might have led to a
suicide rings false.”

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