Directed by Craig William Macneill
Craig William Macneill’s underpowered Lizzie offers a tedious perspective of the 1892 true-crime story set in Fall Rivers, Massachusetts, in which Lizzie Borden, here impersonated by the capable Chloe Sevigny, was temporarily arrested and tried for the murder of her father and stepmother. 125 years have passed and the case, publicly known as 'the axe murders', remains a mystery. However, any curiosity related to the macabre occurrence remains shallow throughout this dispassionate and often formulaic reconstruction of the events.
Bryce Kass’ script pictures Lizzie with a likable frontal personality, resisting as much as she can to the austerity and conservatism of her wealthy father, Andrew (Jamey Sheridan). Socially and intellectually repressed, Lizzie, who is also impelled to fight an avid uncle (Denis O'Hare) in order to protect her inheritance, engenders an evil plan in the company of a newly arrived housemaid, Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), with whom she lives a lesbian relationship.
There’s nothing particularly surprising or even appealing in this fictional account, where the flame of forbidden love is extinguished almost before it starts through an underlying static quality of the characters’ actions. This obstacle also narrowed any possibility of thrills.
Moreover, if Sevigny’s performance keeps us hoping for better, Stewart is maladjusted and never truly convinces in her role. With such a potential story in hands, Macneill had everything to create greater suspenseful moments with a stronger impact if he hadn’t a heavy hand. A thriller that is never unsettling soon becomes a triviality. And that’s exactly what Lizzie is.