Throughout history, there have been many famous cases in which children have committed murders against their parents, most famously the Menendez Brothers and of course Lizzie Borden, who was acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother. The facts of the case have always been a bit muddled because the documentation of the case wasn't as in depth as it is today.
Many have taken different view points on the case and Lifetime is no exception -- this time in the form of a new movie starring Christina Ricci in not one of her better roles. This movie immediately gives off the impression that Lizzie was a total sociopath with great acting chops.
The relationship between Lizzie and her father is clearly more than just the typical father-daughter relationship where she can play him like a fiddle to get her way, but almost incestuous. She's cuddling up to him in a way that even by 1800s standards is majorly out there and there is absolutely no mention of a relationship with her stepmother, except for a minor incident in which Lizzie is accused of stealing her stepmother's watch and hawking it.
Instead of taking dramatic license because it is, there are moments when Lizzie's antics just after the murder are too ridiculous for words, like just after the police arrive and they are questing Lizzie and her maid, a man carrying a medical bag walks in and when the police officer explains what he's there for -- to examine the bodies. First the body of Andrew Borden because he was killed in the living room just outside the dining room, but they have moved the body into the living room table to examine it and Lizzie goes, "We have to eat there!". It was a moment where you had to pause and say to yourself laughing "Really?!"
The relationship between Lizzie and Emma, her sister, isn't explored. Emma just randomly shows up after the murders and stays for the duration but eventually begins to feel that Lizzie is putting on a show for the police during the day while living it up at night and that she really is manipulative and begins to to fear for her own life.
The whole trial of Lizzie basically consisted of Lizzie Emma and the medical examiner answering questions and Lizzie's testimony should have been awarded an academy award for the crocodile tears she coughed up because after she finished crying, she became stone faced and argumentative especially when it comes to the clothing she was wearing the day of the murder which she is ordered to produce but instead burns that night over the objections of her sister.
Despite the prosecution's attempts to pinpoint Lizzie as the murderer, the pod person glare on her face was starting to creep people out. After they drag out the skulls of Andrew and Abigail Borden to demonstrate the blows that they were given. Before the verdict is read, the Jury reenacts the brutal beating of Andrew Borden much to the horror of Emma Borden.
The jury votes to acquit Lizzie of the charges because in the end the police botched it with no physical evidence and because her sister corroborated her testimony and after Lizzie and Emma leaves the courthouse, Emma confronts her sister and Lizzie admits that she did in fact kill them. Emma leaves Fall River in Horror, never to return or speak to her sister again.
Growing up here, the Legend of Lizzie Borden is as common as the Ballad of Icabod Crane. We can recite the story without blinking and let's face it, we've all hummed "Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her father 40 whacks, when she saw what she'd done, she gave her mother 41" to our parents when they've annoyed us but this Lifetime time didn't meet with my expectations. It was flat and no offense to Christina Ricci or her acting abilities but it was like she was possessed the way her eyes kept widening as if she was reading cue cards.
The best adaptation I believe will always be the Elizabeth Montgomery and Katherine Helmond version where Elizabeth just took that role and ran with it. You literally could feel the hatred she had for Abigail Borden and the fear Katherine Helmond had being around Elizabeth who took bullying to a whole new level. That's the type of acting range needed to take on such a role.
What did you think of this version? Was it overacting at it's finest or was it simply good enough to be a Lifetime movie?
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