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Stars: Rebecca Hall, Tracy Letts, Michael C Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tim Simons, J Smith-Cameron, Jayson Warner Smith, Kim Shaw, John Cullum

Director: Antonio Campos

This tragic tale makes really downbeat viewing. Despite a terrific performance by Britain's Rebecca Hall, the real-life ending of the story, which I won't reveal for the few who aren't going to be familiar with it, overshadows everything else in the film, rendering proceedings all the more painful.

Christine Chubbuck is a reporter and sometime presenter on a small Florida news station. Tall, mournful and bluestocking in appearance, she's a limited personality in front of the camera, but a fierce defender of hard news, as opposed to the exploitative and often frivolous content favoured by the station's director (Letts), although it's hard to share her horror at his enthusiasm for a story about shock treatment given to rid fat people of junk food obesity.

An intense and not entirely sympathetic character, Christine is further stressed by continual stomach pain which eventually results in her having an ovary removed after a cyst is discovered. Even her attempts to entertain mentally handicapped children at a local hospital with puppet shows seem melancholy and forced.

Still a virgin as she approaches her 30th birthday, a date with the news anchor (Michael C Hall) she fancies leads only to a therapy session which acutely embarrasses her.

This is a grim and fairly unrelenting account of the mental disintegration of a talented person, with nicely drawn portraits of the newsroom staff by the the two Halls, Letts, Simons and Dizzia.

David Quinlan

USA/UK 2016. UK Distributor: Curzon Artificial Eye (Universal). Technicolor.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Jan 2017