Sevigny is always a force on the screen and it takes a strong co-star to keep up with her. Stewart provides the balance with a strength that is far different from Sevigny’s. Much of Stewart’s performance had to be played with more subtlety and finesse because of her status in the household. Much of her performance comes through her eyes and body language that at first glance looks passive but on closer examination shows great will and determination.
Had either performance wavered, “Lizzie” would have been little more than another period piece murder mystery where the outcome has been well-documented. That never happens because Sevigny and Stewart are always the primary powers in a scene even if the writing and direction stumble a bit.
Kass has created a story in three acts where the first two acts have some slow spots and the final act wraps up so quickly, it was as if the production was about to run out of money. He also takes a very linear approach with the murder portion instead of at least developing some of the casually mentioned alternate versions a little more.
Even with a few blips, “Lizzie” is a film that while based on an oft told tale comes across with enough originality to make it interesting. Add to that solid performances by Sevigny and Stewart and “Lizzie” shows that even a project based on the familiar can be a cut above the rest.
Starring Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart and Kim Dickens. Directed by Craig William Macneill.
Rated R for violence, nudity, language, sexuality. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 46 minutes.
Bottom line: An oft-told story with enough originality to make it interesting