Kate Plays Christine

Studio: Grasshopper Film
Directed by Robert Greene

Aug 22, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Robert Greene’s documentary follows actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she travels to Florida to research and prepare for a role as Christine Chubbuck, a Sarasota newscaster who famously took her own life on-air for what seemed—in her own final words—to be in protest of her station’s repeated turns towards what she called “blood and guts” television. As Sheil struggles to find information on Chubbuck beyond the single trigger-pull that made her a footnote in TV history, she calls into question her own motivation for re-living the woman’s tragedy for the cameras.  

Obviously Sheil guides the film’s compelling moral and social queries, but it’s her own interpretation of Chubbuck’s unknown story—specifically, the moments she spends exploring the troubled woman’s world in character as her—that’s truly captivating. Intensely intimate cinematography by Sean Price Williams (Heaven Knows What) and sly editing work help obscure the line between what’s real and what’s performance; by the movie’s final scenes, Sheil has become Chubbuck’s proxy. Despite the filmmaking ephemera constantly jutting in-frame to remind us it’s all a movie, her portrayal of the woman’s last, desperate act feels no less shocking.

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Author rating: 7/10

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