Lizzie is a slow burn character study of the infamous Lizzie Borden that ponders what may have driven her to allegedly kill her father and stepmother with an axe in August 1892. It’s more Capote than From Hell in that regard, invested more in intimacy and mood than in being a rubbernecker at the scene of a grisly historical crime. The film is often as icy and inscrutable as its title character.
Chloë Sevigny is in almost every scene, delivering an understated performance as Lizzie. Her father treats her like a child, her every movement outside of her New England home is questioned — a foreshadowing of her eventual trial and its determining of where and when she was at the time of the murders. Lizzie Borden was a figurative prisoner — of her family, of the mores of the time — long before she was a literal one. Sevigny’s close-to the-vest performance, though, is almost too low-key at times, contributing to the overall subdued nature of the piece that will likely prove too slow and sleepy for some viewers’ tastes.