#LizzieBorden Took An Ax…Now on Netflix starring #ChristinaRicci

There’s a famous nursery rhyme about the legendary murder from August 4, 1892:

 Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks

When she saw what she had done

She gave her father forty-one 

In Fall River, Massachusetts in the summer of 1892, a crime was committed that became the basis for the modern day courtroom drama. Accused and later acquitted of the murder of her parents, Lizzie Borden’s name has become synonymous with folklore and a woman who got away with murder. There have been several film, even stage adaptations of the famous mystery and its seemingly innocent woman. Taking on the role of Lizzie Borden this time is Christina Ricci. Originally premiering on the Lifetime television network in January, 2014, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax has made its way to Netflix. Weirdly enough, I watched it yesterday, on August 4th, 122 years to the day, after the crime.

Things start off as strangely as the legend of the murder itself with a modern day soundtrack that continues throughout the film. I’ve never really been  a fan of period pieces using modern music, the recent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby being the most recent big-screen culprit. I found it annoying when Marie Antoinette, and A Knight’s Tale did it, and it still bugs me now. That being said, the movie is rather decent, but sometimes drags at parts. Ricci did an acceptable job as Borden, but from an acting standpoint, I found some of her movements and facial expressions to be a bit too modern. Then again, given its use of modern music, it might have been a director/actor decision collaboratively. Some things just felt too forced. I found myself thinking about the set dressing and costumes more than the acting at some points. And, from an actor’s point of view, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Clea Duvall makes an appearance as Lizzie’s sister Emma, and Billy Campbell plays her lawyer, but neither get enough screen time. Christina Ricci has always been one of my favorite actresses. I grew up watching her movies; from Mermaids to The Addams Family to Now & Then and The Ice Storm, she’s always been one that I’ve wanted to watch.  This project is no different. Despite its slow goings and weird soundtrack, I’d give this retelling of the famous Borden case a watch.

Two By Two: The Revenge of Julia and JLo

Back in the day, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez actually acted. Like legit, acted. And, back in the day, they both made the same crappy movie–a decade apart. Well, not the same movie. But 2002’s Enough was definitely a rip-off of 1991’s Sleeping with the Enemy. All they did was add a kid to the mix. Thanks, Hollywood. Are there NO ORIGINAL IDEAS ANYMORE? What gives?

Okay, here’s the run-down. Julia Roberts stars in Sleeping with the Enemy fresh off of her successes in Pretty Woman and Steel Magnolias for which is received Oscar nominations for both films respectively. According to the summary, “A young woman fakes her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband.”–via IMDB.

Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand, is the driving force behind Enough; coming off of such hits as Tarsem’s The Cell, Oliver Stone’s U Turn & c0-starring with George Clooney in Out of Sight. According to its summary, “On the run from an abusive husband, a young mother begins to train herself to fight back.”–via IMDB.

Hmmm…something’s fishy. I really want to know who green-lit Enough because it’s essentially the same damn movie. And I paid to see it in the theater. I was 18 and going through a “JLo is a good actress” phase. She’s still a good actress, but she let the fame get to her head. Anyways… Is a decade too long to ask for your money back? Here’s the sitch: Wife is abused by her husband. Wife escapes husband. Husband searches for wife. Husband finds wife. Wife fights back. Wife kills husband. The end. In BOTH movies.

Need proof? Here are the trailers:

The voice-overs for the trailers are nearly identical. I rest my case.

The most prominent differences between Enough and Sleeping with the Enemy are the fact that one has a kid, one doesn’t; Enough has a fight coach, SwtE has a love interest. But BOTH are being pursued by their vicious husbands and take revenge. Grrr. GIRL POWER!

I gotta give the creepy husbands some credit though. It takes a strong actor to play the stereotypical abusive husband and do it differently. Although, Patrick Bergin (SwtE) and Billy Campbell (Enough) both play characters who are excessively wealthy. The difference comes in the snake-oil salesman approach with which Patrick Bergin plays Martin. It’s truly an over-the-top performance. That doesn’t help Julia Roberts performance, which is actually quite good in this movie. Again, Billy Campbell has the suave businessman approach to his character as well, but JLo just seems to be recycling what every other actress who plays an abused wife does–until the end. Then she kicks some serious ass. Too bad the exciting part is only at the end with Enough.

I also think that the writer was trying to play the sympathy card with JLo’s plight because she had a kid. You add a kid to mix and suddenly, it’s the ultimate revenge movie. I noticed this with Ashley Judd’s performance in Double Jeopardy as well.  If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then I don’t even want to imagine what that’s like when a child is involved. Apparently it includes massive amounts of strength training and target practice. Julia Roberts, I’m sorry to say, missed out on target practice. Probably because her storyline lacked the “I’m a mother protecting my offspring” element.

If you want to see Julia Roberts rebuild her life after faking her death, or JLo kicking some serious ass, watch these movies. For the time being, Sleeping with the Enemy is available to stream on Netflix. Just for the hell of it, put Enough in your queue and when you get it, just fast forward to the last scene.

Oh, and as a side note, WHY does every movie that has someone “building a new life” include the painting of room? My guess is art therapy for the actors so they can handle  the stress of being in a bad movie.