Kate Plays Christine
Actress director Robert Greene’s intriguing documentary, highly acclaimed after screening at Sundance, follows actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play Christine Chubbock, a reporter for a local news station on US television who in 1974, ended her life on a live TV feed via gunshot.
This shocking event (which inspired the screenplay for Network) will also soon be covered in a drama by Antonio Campos, with Chubbock played by Rebecca Hall. The film Sheil is preparing for though does not really exist; so the inspiration for her role is semi-fictive, and these layers of truth and textuality, reality and unreality create an unsettling mix.
Nevertheless we watch as Sheil dons a wig, reads about suicide, visits locations in Chubbock’s native Sarasota and talks to those who knew her, but Greene is in search of something other than documentary truth here. He seems interested not just in Chubbock and Sheil but also with the very process of assimilating a character and preparing for a role, as well as the performative notes of Chubbock’s own suicide. The end result is fascinating, tragic and mysterious: much like Chubbock herself.