A psychological thriller about the murders on the Borden family in 1892.
I had never heard of Lizzie Borden or the murder of her stepmother and father until earlier this year. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was something I was just oblivious to, or if it’s a story that never really became well known here in the UK.
Chloë Sevigny is captivating as Lizzie Borden. There’s a simmering rage beneath almost everything she does that you cannot look away from. This rage is because of her father (played by an icy Jamey Sheridan) who controls everything she does and belittles her interests.
Lizzie forms a friendship with the family’s new Irish maid Bridget (Kristen Stewart), with her Lizzie finds comfort in an otherwise cold home. The romance and tension between Lizzie and Bridget is electric to begin with but it’s unfortunately lost as the film progresses. More could’ve been made of their relationship but both Sevigny and Stewart give powerful performances.
Costuming and set design are both beautiful and haunting in equal measure, making this relatively small budgeted film look lavish. Lizzie is a film which seems to fall into a lot of the negative stereotypes of period-dramas, there’s lots of scenes of characters walking slowly down hallways or staring at each other across tables. In some scenes this builds the tension, but in others it seems to be dragging everything out when you’re waiting for the violent act to finally arrive.
Lizzie is an interesting film with a lot to say though it never finds the balance of what it wants to be. It’s a family drama, a crime thriller, and a lesbian romance, but it never gives any of these elements the time to be fully fleshed-out. The performances of its leads are better than the script their given, making Lizzie a straightforward and unremarkable retelling of this classic case. 3/5.
After a trauma over the summer that she’s trying to forget, Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart) becomes a selective mute. As she struggles with high school, broken friendships and her family, slowly she revisits what happens to her and tries to speak out.
Melinda is a teenager who has gone through a traumatic experience and really doesn’t know how to communicate what is going on in her head. While everyone else leaves her to get lost in her own head, her art teacher Mr Freeman (Steve Zahn) encourages her to express herself through her art. They have a sort of respect for each other and the art room becomes a place of sanctuary for her.
Speak is a great film because all the relationships are believable. Melinda’s parents Joyce (Elizabeth Perkins) and Jack (D.E. Sweeney) both don’t know what’s made Melinda so quiet but they don’t know how to push her to open up and at the same time they are both busy with their own lives that they don’t pay as much attention to her as they probably should. It’s not malicious, it’s just life. The way that teenage friendships can just fall apart is also handled-well. Suddenly people can go from one friendship group to a clique within a blink of an eye, that’s what happened to Melinda and she’s now on the outside looking in.
Speak is a phenomenal film. It’s the kind of film that showcases acting, direction and scriptwriting and shows that you don’t need a huge budget, just some talented people to make a film that can pack an emotional punch. Kristen Stewart is amazing as Melinda, there’s a scene where she locks herself in her closet and screams which makes your hair stand on end.
Speak is a powerful and inspiring drama and is the kind of film everyone should watch. 5/5.