Chloë Sevigny Sheds a New Light on Famous Axe Murderer, Lizzie
Reduced to a caricature in a gory nursery rhyme, Chloë Sevigny is taking a closer look at Lizzie Borden’s motive for murder. Often perceived to be a cold-blooded killer, Lizzie take a big picture look at the events leading up to the crime. Sevigny’s passion project premiered earlier this year at Sundance, and the first trailer finally gives us a look at the gripping drama.
Lizzie strikes me as a similar approach to Sofia Coppola’s feminist retelling of The Beguiled last year. The first look at Lizzie shows a vulnerable woman suffering abuse and intolerance within her family. Kristen Stewart stars opposite Sevigny as the Borden housekeeper and Lizzie’s lover. Rather than dismiss her fatal reaction as malicious, Lizzie explores the tense family dynamics that drove a young woman to murder. The implications of what these women suffered adds an even darker and more disturbing layer to the story.
Composer Jeff Russo discussed the original new perspective earlier this year. “I’m not sure she’s an attractive character, certainly very evocative,” Russo said. “Being oppressed by her father, being oppressed by her step mother, and how they looked upon her having this love for Bridget and having this lesbian affair. It’s just really an interesting way to tell this story, from the point of view of empowerment. Despite the fact it ends in a horrible killing, it still feels like there is this part of it that tells the story from someone trying to protect themselves, trying to rise up.”
To portray Borden as sympathetic will require some reworking of the story we think we know. The story has been recounted in multiple adaptations as recently as 2015. Christina Ricci played Borden as a merry murderess on the Lifetime miniseries The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. And yet, what better time to cast aside our assumptions and revisit the crime from the female perspective. As women’s stories are finally being heard, it is time to give Lizzie another trial in the court of public opinion.
Lizzie opens in theaters September 14.
Featured Image: Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny in LIZZIE Photo credit: Courtesy of Saban Films and Roadside Attractions