LIZZIE – Review by Susan Granger

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Over the years, the New England legend of Lizzie Borden has inspired books, movies, even an opera.

Here are the facts: on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts, 32 year-old Lizzie and her sister Emma lived under the control of their oppressive father. But when Lizzie was tried and acquitted of his axe murder and that of her step-mother, it ignited many scenarios attempting to explain what actually happened.

In this wannabe psychological thriller, the lonely life of willful Lizzie Borden (Chloe Sevigny) is changed when a young maid, Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), comes to work for the family. At that time, all female Irish servants were called ‘Maggie,’ rather than their given name. But defiant Lizzie recognizes Bridget as an individual.

Lizzie and Bridget are kindred spirits, lesbians in love at a repressive time when that was considered “an abomination.” And when Lizzie catches Andrew sexually abusing Bridget, she breaks a hand mirror, scattering shattered glass in her barefoot father’s path.

Penny-pinching Andrew Borden (Jamey Sheridan) and his submissive 2nd wife, Abby (Fiona Shaw), caricaturize villains, as Andrew and his wife’s brother, John Morse (Denis O’Hare), confer about how to improve their business prospects. Yet feckless John yearns to eliminate Andrew and institutionalize spinsters Lizzie and Emma, acquiring the family money for himself.

Sketchily written by Bryce Kass and heavy-handedly directed by Craig William Macneill, it features naked, blood-splattered Sevigny as a stolid, axe-wielding stalker. Actually, Lizzie’s lesbian preference was a pivotal point in an ominous 1984 thriller by Ed McBain – a.k.a. novelist Evan Hunter.

Best known as a New York avant-garde fashionista and independent-film actress, Chloe Sevigny aspires to be a filmmaker, directing two short films (“Kitty,” “Carmen”) before producing this one.

Sevigny views Lizzie Borden as an American outlaw, a pioneer for female autonomy, pivoting into the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Lizzie” is a feminist 4, a highbrow horror movie.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.