Christine ★★★½


A.V. Club review. Saw this after Kate Plays Christine, which (in a truly remarkable coincidence) argues against its very existence...and I'd already voiced skepticism just upon seeing the title announced. So I was primed for pointless exploitation that panders to the viewer's worst instincts. But Christine actually embraces irresolvability, thanks to a live-wire performance by Rebecca Hall that deliberately keeps Chubbuck at a bracing, abrasive distance. Even when the screenplay makes a token effort to explain her, it does so via alienation devices like her children's puppet show; Campos, by contrast, tones down his formal aggression, trapping Chubbuck's eccentricity within sterile flatness. The standard imaginative constraints imposed by "based on actual events" mean that the film's virtues mostly just involve avoiding obvious missteps, i.e. it's good because, surprise, it's not bad. But then, after the horrific "money shot" (in both possible senses of the phrase), comes a coda that's so unexpectedly perfect—combining generosity, poignance, and rueful irony in discomfiting proportions—that it retroactively provides the whole with a greater sense of purpose. It's also as serendipitous a "fuck you Robert Greene" as Greene's ending is a "fuck you Antonio Campos."

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