Review: Lizzie (2018)

Lizzie (2018)

Directed by: Craig William Macneill | 101 minutes | biography, crime | Actors: Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jeff Perry, Fiona Shaw, Jamey Sheridan, Tara Ochs, Kim Dickens, Daniel Wachs, Denis O’Hare, Jody Matzer, Don Henderson Baker, Jay Huguley, Roscoe Sandlin, Tom Thon, Katharine Harrington

Lizzie Borden is a notorious name in the United States. This woman is mentioned in the same breath as the murders of her father and stepmother in Massachusetts in 1892. It was impossible for people at this time to imagine that a woman could kill someone. Borden was therefore never convicted, while there were a lot of signs that she was indeed involved in these atrocities. In ‘Lizzie’, director Craig William Macneill tries to give an insight into the world of Borden.

The story of ‘Lizzie’ takes place in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. One day, Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny) is confronted by the gory scene of her parents being murdered with an axe. Lizzie is acquitted of the murder of her arrogant father and stepmother, but she is publicly convicted. However, Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), the live-in maid for the Bordens, reveals at the trial that Lizzie was home when the murders took place. But in 1892 it is believed that a woman could not possibly have committed such cruel murders.

This history has resulted in a flurry of (TV) films, documentaries and series about Borden. Sevigny had wanted to start a project herself for years to show her view on this tragedy. Her passion project eventually came to life in the form of ‘Lizzie’ in which she plays the lead role. The persistence wins, because the actress has succeeded in performing an oppressive character sketch. Although the murder does come into the picture – especially the consequences – it is more about its realization and the circumstances in which the act developed.

Women in the nineteenth century were now not exactly valued citizens, but subordinate to men. Utensils instead of equals. Hatred grew in this setting. Macneill steadily increases the tension and does not shy away from a downright unpleasant atmosphere. ‘Lizzie’ is not an easy film, but a production that sticks to you afterwards. The motives for murder are nowhere condoned, but you can certainly understand the motives of the perpetrators. This includes strong directing, great acting and a penetrating atmosphere. Beautiful and very impressive film.

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