This is more like it, LIfetime. After the two false-starts in original movies in as many months, the network has struck the right note with Lizzie Borden Took an Ax as a fun a modern take on the old tale-turn-legend. Christina RIcci plays the defiant, mildly rebellious Lizzie, the country’s first ax-murderer who hacked her father and stepmother to death in the late nineteenth century and them went through a paparazzi-style trial. The real Lizzie Borden was acquitted by all-male jury, disbelieving a woman could have committed such a heinous crime. The movie stays pretty true to the myth, and even banks on our belief that Lizzie really did murder her parents, but got away with it anyway -- OJ Simpson. It’s not revealing anything new about this century old tale, nor is it offering some strategic insight into some cultural theme. Its just a sexy, modern take on a grisly horror story -- and I liked it.
Its the details that really drive this movie, not the storylines or the character development, and it succeeds as a project that doesn’t take itself so seriously. It is scored with modern, heavy rock songs, including one from the Black Keys, and too-sexy-for-their-time costumes that keep this movie firmly rooted in the present instead of lingering too long in the past. Christina Ricci does an excellent crazy face -- complete with unblinking eyes and all, and her sister, played by Clea Duvall doesn’t have much expositional value, but works to ratchet up the creep factor as her caretaker and companion (even though she resorts to locking her doors at night).
There is not much in the way of production value, but that keeps the focus on Ricci, which she deserves. Her portrayal of Lizzie is eerie, and since we all already know she did, far less muted than it needs to be. She dips in and out of coy seduction and the character, channeling Lolita, makes us think there might be something happening between her and her oppressively, controlling father. All in all, it was a fun way to spend two hours and I recommend it for folks who aren’t die-hard Lizzie Borden
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