This 2016 movie is based on true events. It stars Rebecca Hall as Christine Chubbuck, a reporter from WZRB station in Sarasota, Florida in 1974. Christine is ambitious and wants badly to be promoted; at the same time, she is also facing challenges in her home life (relationship with her mother, Peg – played by J. Smith-Cameron), personal issues and health scares.
An aspiring newswoman with an interest in social justice, she is constantly butting heads with her superior, Mike (Tracy Letts), who pushes for jucier stories that will drive up ratings. (She does “issue-oriented, or character-based pieces”, not “demeaning, fender-bender reporting” like car accidents and pileups. But Mike believes, “If it bleeds, it leads”.)
Another station from Baltimore, headed by Bob Anderson (John Cullum), is here to “poach” some of the staff. Christine is being passed over for the weather report girl and the news anchor, George (Michael C. Hall). George’s offer of friendship is misinterpreted, and Christine is disillusioned once again.
At every stage of the story, there is music or songs that appropriately reflect the mood: for eg, when Christine is driving to the Pediatric ward for volunteer work, the song she sings along with the car speakers is John Denver’s Annie’s Song; when Christine is making a To-Do-List, the song played is Boyce & Hart’s I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight; at a July 4 company party, the song played is George McCrae’s Rock You Baby; when Christine is playing pool with George after dinner, the song is Sonny & Cher’s Leaving It All Up To You; when Christine leaves the doctor’s office to go to work, the song played is Alive & Kickin’s Tighter, Tighter; after an argument, Christine tries to gain equilibrium to Olivia Newton-John’s Everything’s Too Much; after Christine’s meeting with a counsellor, the song is Tommy Jones’ Sweet Cherry Wine…
I find the final scene the most effective. There is obviously a lot of cheoreography and special effects for it to achieve the level of intensity and surprise. While reporting the news live, the studio experiences a sudden technical difficulty, and Christine quickly flipped her set of papers to a prepared script that goes: “Now, in keeping with the WZRB policy, presenting the most immediate and complete reports of local blood and guts, TV 30 presents what is in living colour and exclusive coverage of an attempted suicide” before reaching for the cloth bag on her lap.
The story of a woman who commits suicide on air is so sad and depressing.