Friday, 13 January 2017

REVIEW - CHRISTINE (ANTONIO CAMPOS)


Fresh from a debate on the morality of such an enterprise, Christine comes in the form of a would-be definitive statement. Its director, Antonio Campos, is an exploiter; its writer, Craig Shilowich, is an interrogator - of some skill, according to this evidence; its star, Rebecca Hall, is a genius. If Christine's sympathy for its central character - its only character, perhaps - is not enough to justify its existence, its tact and intelligence are at least enough to justify whatever liberties its creators have taken. Campos' film is no less insightful a treatise on the duelling duties of artist / media and of consumer than Robert Greene's Kate Plays Christine, but it's less direct, and thus a more collaborative, rewarding experience. Campos can't help but hit the nail too squarely on the head when Shilowich affords him the opportunity, but this is arguably his most sensitive, restrained work to date. This film analyzes its key themes ever through the prism of its protagonist's fascinatingly warped mindset, one of such a myriad of qualities as to suggest nothing less than a real human being - that rarest of figures in fictional filmmaking. And, though Christine is largely faithful to the reality of its story, that remains an uncommon attribute even within this quasi-genre. Christine Chubbuck's omnipresence here is as affecting in concept as her absence in Greene's picture, and ever more so in delivery. Rebecca Hall plumbs every depth of this infinitely multi-layered part, yet consistently without any show of strain, any indication of effort. She's so marvellous that her performance doesn't merely improve her film, it practically is her film in its very being. No debate required: Rebecca Hall is one of the finest actors of her generation.