Friday, June 5, 2020

Hatchet Murder Love Story

Lizzie (2018) - Macneil
Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 9.25.37 AM
Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 9.26.15 AM
Lizzie Borden has been a subject for folklore and American popular culture for a long time. Accused of her parent's sensational, grizzly hatchet murders but never convicted, Borden story has been constantly gossiped and dramatized ever since. Since everything about the murder is a pure speculation, director Craig Macneil, writer Bryce Kass and producer Chloë Sevigny tackle the subject from an unrequited lesbian lovers' angle in an aggressively patriarchal era. And it's an interesting angle indeed.

Sevigny plays Lizzie Borden, a woman past her prime and never married (by the time of murder, she was 32), probably due to her health conditions (she was epileptic). Confined in a victorian house with no electricity (family was wealthy but frugal) with her overbearing father and stepmother, Lizzie rebels, questioning her father's shaky finances and wanting independence.

Maggie (Kristen Stewart), a new young servant from Ireland catches Lizzie's eye and they become close confidents, especially after Lizzie finds out her father started frequenting Maggie's attic room in the middle of the night.

Things build up to the murder like a good thriller - Lizzie's father beheading all her beloved pigeons as a punishment for her insolence, her sexual affair with Maggie, her creepy uncle's shady financial scheme against her father's wealth. As story unfolds in non-linear fashion, we see the murders taking place while the court case plays out. In filmmakers interpretation, it was a completely exacted premeditated murder, not a crime of passion - Lizzie killed her stepmother first, since if father dies first, all his family wealth will go to the widow's family. And to make things easier for clean up, Lizzie (and Maggie) strips naked, sneaked around their victims with the hatchet (the same hatchet her father used to kill her birds) in their hands.

It's a very unsentimental, drama free interpretation of the incident. Cinematography, being in a electricity-less household, is minimal and dark. The main point is made when Maggie visits Lizzie in holding cell during trial. She asks her mistress what she wanted from her. Lizzie says she want them to try. Maggie responds, "You are dreaming. You don't see it. You can't see it. We live in this world, not another." In fact, Maggie moved away to live in Montana where she died of an old age, Lizzie defiantly remain in her home town in Massachusetts. It's very similar to Celine Sciamma's acclaimed hit Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but with blood and murders, yet strangely subdued. Not bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment