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Watch Rebecca Hall Talk About the Power of Historical Empathy in ‘Christine’

Hall's portrayal of news reporter Christine Chubbuck is one of last year's best performances, mainly for how it gives depth to a complicated figure.

Rebecca Hall, by Daniel Bergeron. Must be licensed through Getty Contour.  Indiewire 2016. No PR/No Release on file.

Rebecca Hall

Daniel Bergeron

[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Spectrum. Catch up on this year’s Awards Season contenders and the latest films On Demand. Today’s pick is “Christine.”]

Acting is all about respect: to the material, to collaborators and, most importantly, to the character. One of last year’s best examples was Rebecca Hall’s portrayal of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida newscaster whose on-air death in 1974 became part of an ever-evolving television mythology. Chubbuck’s is a delicate story, one that could easily have become an exploitative caricature of a “troubled woman.”

But in Antonio Campos’ “Christine,” Hall enriches her version of Chubbuck with that respect, keeping this on-screen version from being a flat cipher for the problems in our modern news media or for those dealing with mental health issues. With 43 years of distance, “Christine” lets Hall show a fuller view of Chubbuck’s life.

In playing the full series of events that led to her fateful decision, Hall gets the opportunity to show other sides of Chubbuck that those only familiar with her final few minutes might not understand. We see her struggle for acceptance in her professional life at the WXLT station, in her personal relationships with co-worker George Peter Ryan (Michael C. Hall), and beyond.

All of these tiny moments help show a woman who wanted to be seen and wanted the opportunity for more than she had. While history may not have been as kind to Chubbuck’s life-defining choice, Hall’s performance gives her another chance at a sympathetic reevaluation.

We spoke with Hall at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where she talked about the desire to show Chubbuck as a fully formed person rather than someone viewed only through the lens of a single action.

You can watch Rebecca Hall’s performance as Christine Chubbuck in Antonio Campos’ “Christine,” now playing on Movies On Demand through April 17.

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