The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
On July 15, 1974, Christine Chubbuck, a journalist and newscaster working at Sarasota's WXLT-TV, began her live broadcast with the words: "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in 'blood and guts', and in living color, you are going to see another first —attempted suicide." She then pulled out a gun and shot herself in the head, live on-air. She died in the hospital later that day. The event sparked much controversy and conversation in the news world as well as in Chubbuck's smaller world of friends and associates. All of this laid out in intricate detail in Sally Quinn's article about Chubbuck for the Washington Post in the immediate aftermath of Chubbuck's suicide.
Who knows what zeitgeist is at work that 2016 has seen two films about Christine Chubbuck? Is it the same zeitgeist that brought us not one, but two, films about Florence Foster Jenkins in the same year? In terms of Chubbuck, first there was "Kate Plays Christine," Robert Greene's meta-documentary about an actress preparing to play Christine Chubbuck, and now "Christine," a biopic directed by Antonio Campos.
"Christine," centered on a riveting and at times unbearably emotional performance by Rebecca Hall, attempts to give a three-dimensional and respectful-yet-honest portrait of a complex woman. Sometimes the film is successful in this, sometimes it's not. There are questions of exploitation that nag throughout, as well as a queasy feeling that we the audience are participating in exploiting this troubled woman all over again. Rebecca Hall's performance, however, is one of the most insightful portraits in recent memory of how untreated depression can operate. Depression is not pleasant, and people who suffer from it are not always sympathetic. Chubbuck is a maddening person to those who love her. Even her supporters are eventually pushed away.
Chubbuck was (by all accounts) tormented by her lack of personal life, as well as her envy towards co-workers who got offers in larger national markets. She was a journalist disgusted by the increasing sensationalization of the news (she's a counterpart to her fictional contemporary, Howard Beale in "Network," whose screams "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" become a rallying cry). So disgusted was Chubbuck that her on-air suicide is seen (by some) as a critique of said sensationalism.