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Lizzie Movie Review

Lizzie Review

By David Kempler

Dizzy Miss Lizzie

The tale of Lizzie Borden is one of those things that has been imprinted on American culture. It’s a true story that dates back to August 4, 1892, about a man and his wife being axed to death, allegedly by their daughter. It’s remembered best by this poem:

“Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”

There have been quite a few interpretations of what really happened. Craig William Macneill’s version is the latest, starring Chloë Sevigny as Lizzie, and she is a great choice for the role. She has the same ability as Jack Nicholson to lend believability to a role where sanity is in question.


“Lizzie” adds another sub-plot that is sexual in nature involving Bridget (Kristen Stewart), the recently hired maid. It works because both actresses are very talented. What this does is change the entire dynamic of the Borden household, creating different tangents that can be pulled together at the end. Then again, it also seems like an excuse to get the female leads to be naked.

Perhaps the most important piece of “Lizzie” is how sympathetic we are to the title character. She suffers from convulsions and fainting spells and she’s exceptionally bright compared to everyone else. She is also treated like garbage by her father, her step-mother, her uncle, and some of the locals. Even if she did chop up her parents, they may have deserved it.

Amazingly, my biggest complaint with Lizzie is that it isn’t tense enough. Sure, there are some awfully edgy scenes, but in-between, it’s a bit too calm for this type of story. Thankfully, Sevigny and Stewart make it work well enough to keep you interested in this whacky tale.

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