By Angela Salazar
Updated Oct 14, 2016 @ 1:00 pm
Rebecca Hall
Credit: Matthew Brookes

In the summer of 1974, local news watchers in Sarasota, Fla., witnessed a shocking on-air event.

Based on a true story, director Antonio Campos’s latest film, Christine, opening today, takes audiences on an emotional journey through newswoman Christine Chubbuck’s final months before committing suicide on live television.

Rebecca Hall gives a stunning performance as Christine. Brilliant, complex and struggling with both her personal and professional life, Christine is deeply troubled by the increasing demand for sensationalism in news, and the unrequited love of her coworker, played by Michael C. Hall.

Christine - Embed 2
Credit: Courtesy of The Orchard

“It’s difficult to try and imagine yourself in the space of someone who struggles to get through every day, but is desperate to try and survive, even though they’re fighting this impulse to end it all. That’s a very dark place to go to,” Hall said when she stopped by InStyle’s portrait studio at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

Preparing for the role proved difficult, since very little footage of Christine Chubbuck exists today. Hall said she had to operate largely on instinct and other research in order to embody the character.

“I watched about 20 minutes of footage of her doing her show, the Suncoast Digest, but it allowed me to listen to her voice and to watch her body language a little bit. It was a lot of imagination and instinct,” Hall said.

Production still from set of CHRISTINE, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of The Orchard

To better understand the person behind the events, Hall tried to come to her own conclusions about what Christine’s mental state may have been, noting that much of the information available to us today would not have been available to Christine in the 1970s.

“I understand how important it is to get this correct, because, it’s important to start the conversation and take away some of the taboo and otherness that surrounds the issues of mental health,” Hall said.

“It’s really rare to see a film, especially with a woman who’s the protagonist—where you actually see the agony of what it’s like to go through your life feeling like you’re not normal. And I think that’s really what Christine is dealing with: She wakes up every morning and works out how to perform what she perceives as being acceptably normal.”

Christine - Embed 1
Credit: Courtesy of The Orchard

That idea, of feeling normal and finding a place in society, is what Hall feels is most relatable about the film, and perhaps the most important takeaway from Christine’s story.

“The community around Christine loves her and respects her and wants to help her, but she doesn’t see that. And I think that’s the sort of thing that is the most relatable about her story. Even though she did this shocking, frightening thing, we can all relate to this idea that we’re not really doing very well at being accepted.”

Hall’s performance is already garnering acclaim and her ability to capture the brilliance and heartbreak of Christine with subtlety and sensitivity may even thrust her into awards consideration this year. While the film is often hard to watch, it’s a story that, 42 years later, still remains relevant and deserves to be told.

Watch the trailer for Christine above.