Rebecca Hall plays Christine Chubbuck in Christine.

It’s not unusual for two films about the same public figure to appear around the same time, particularly when that person has made an impact in recent years. That's the case with the two narrative features about the young Barack Obama, Southside with You and Barry, to see release this year.

Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, however, is a different story, since she hasn't been heard from since 1974, and since she's better known for the way she died than for the way she lived (her on-air suicide inspired Peter Finch's mad-as-hell character in the Paddy Chayefsky–penned Network).

Rebecca Hall takes on the role in Antonio Campos's Christine, while Kate Lyn Sheil does the same in Robert Greene's Kate Plays Christine. Both open in Seattle this week, but that's where the similarities end, since Sheil (Sun Don't Shine, The Girlfriend Experience) is mostly playing herself in a film that merges fiction with nonfiction, much as in Clio Barnard's The Arbor. Green's previous film Actress also pushed the limits of the documentary form as The Wire's Brandy Burre played a stylized version of herself.

Mostly, Sheil tries to understand the Sarasota-based Chubbuck by scouring archives, meeting with historians, getting fitted for a wig, and learning how to shoot a gun. What she finds is a woman thought of as tough and edgy by those who knew her and forgotten by most everyone else.

It's unlikely that anyone could've saved Christine Chubbuck, but it seems just as likely that if she was upset by the TV news landscape of the 1970s, she couldn't possibly imagine just how bad things would get. recommended