As famous as the story of Lizzie Borden is, it’s strange that this is the first non-TV film to be made about the woman who, as lore would have it, hacked her parents to death back in 1892. Perhaps it’s because it was never determined what really happened that day in Massachusetts?
Director Craig William Macneill‘s new film about the life of Borden offers a new take on the crime with Chloe Sevigny as Lizzie. She’s a sometimes unemotional woman who lives with her strict well-to-do father (Jamey Sheridan) and stepmother (Fiona Shaw). When the family hires a new live-in maid, Bridget (Kristen Stewart), the two become friends and soon, lovers.
When she finds out that her scheming uncle, played by Denis O’Hare, has weaseled his way into her father’s will – and written her and her sister (Kim Dickens) out of their inheritance, tensions begin to mount and she begins to plot the deaths of her family, with the help of her new friend, Bridget.
Written by Bryce Kass, it’s a fresh spin on the story and even though its been called a “feminist take” on the crime – there are hints of abuse from Lizzie’s father and the relationship between Bridget and Lizzy – it’s a film that merits watching mostly because of the terrific performances from Sevigny and Stewart. Sevigny’s Lizzie has a distant gaze that’s both lonely and full of rage at the same time and you almost feel the years of torment behind each line. Stewart, as the Irish maid, has the accent down cold and, as usual, she’s wonderful.
The final moments of the murder are cold and calculating and, like Lizzie herself, unemotional. it’s a chilling ending to a story that, who really knows, could actually be the true tale.