Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Written by Stephen Kay
Directed by Nick Gomez
Lifetime has been breaking out the event movies more and more, which has been leading to some ratings wins. So time to check out Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, the new take on America’s first legendary criminal starring Christina Ricci as the infamous Lizzie Borden. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax certainly shows its chops as a higher caliber Lifetime television movie, but it’s still a television movie and suffers from the limitations thereof. That being said, the majority of the film is well paced and gives us a good look at both Borden’s home life before the killings, and the drama surrounding the trial and aftermath. And some of it is pretty fun, too!
Christina Ricci’s attitude and attire as Lizzie Borden and the more historical setting just can’t keep one from thinking this could be a story of Wednesday Addams all grown up and killing on her own. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax does a bit to capitalize on this, with Ricci wandering around being creepy from time to time.
Where Lizzie Borden Took an Ax gets weakest is that it’s not really a murder mystery, it’s a psychological look at Lizzie Borden. Except it isn’t, really, and might be a murder mystery after all. Or is it? The film’s lack of pure focus is annoying, and despite the script being more tooled for the drama of the trial and the “did she do it?” aspect, the editing has already made up its mind, and doesn’t hesitate to show you via insert after bloody insert. These rapid cuts (ha-ha!) are cool and all, I just wish they were more impactful (ha-ha!) with regard to Borden’s grip on reality. As the weight of the trial bears upon her, Borden becomes medicated and thus less lucid during testimonies. There should be some cool drama here contrasted to her upbringing, but it’s all disregardful for a more straight narrative.
Lack of focus aside, the parts of Lizzie Borden Took an Ax that are fun are very fun, and Borden is a bad girl having fun. Stephen Kay did some research on Lizzie Borden, and theories and conjecture are presented as facts, but also innuendo that might only be picked up if you are familiar with the case. Other parts are not so subtle, and things are fudged a bit for dramatic effect. Things are kept mostly contemporary, except occasional modern rock/rockabilly used for scene transitions setting up the next act.