Lizzie is a decent psychological slow burn, but its problematic pacing leaves me wondering if the film could’ve been stronger had it been workshopped more. With his second feature film, director Craig William Macneill demonstrates his ability to build tension through taut silences and piercing instrumentals. However, Bryce Kass’ script doesn’t match the filmmaker’s patience.
Lizzie is a reimagining of 1892’s bonechilling axe murders which Lizzie Borden was tried for. The film opens with the grisly crime scene, informing the audience of what the narrative will be building up to. Somehow, even though viewers know what the story is about going into the movie, this initial reveal is shocking. However, this choice to address the film’s violence right away proves to be detrimental to the story. While the film is appropriately – and effectively – dour, I found myself growing tired of the same foreboding tricks that were padding out the movie towards its inevitable demise.
Chloë Sevigny (who also produced Lizzie) expertly plays the role of Borden; portraying the controversial figure as a disturbed and sympathetic cry for help. It’s a fully-realized performance that’s on a different level than the rest of Sevigny’s efficent co-stars and the movie’s routine screenplay. Here’s hoping she reunites with Craig William Macneill in a future project that gives them more creative freedom.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie