Forty Whacks

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"Forty Whacks"

When I think about it, Chloe Sevigny’s really spent an awful lot of time on-screen around murderers. She’s serial killer Patrick Bateman’s secretary in American Psycho, murderer Michael Alig’s girlfriend in Party Monster, a researcher in The Killing Room, Brandon Teena’s girlfriend in Boys Don’t Cry, Robert Graysmith’s girlfriend, wife, and ex-wife in Zodiac, and daughter of a possibly murderous Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints prophet on Big Love. So maybe it’s about time she got to kill someone on-screen, or at least get accused of it, as she will in HBO’s new Lizzie Borden miniseries. I’ll be curious to see if the series comes down on the side of Borden’s guilt or innocence, and how much it explores the extent to which the Borden family was isolated and resistant to modernity.

In an odd way, Lizzie Borden’s story feels like a macabre fairy tale to me. It’s a story that’s so familiar that I need an interesting interpretation to hook me into it, as if it’s fiction, more a form than a specific story. Obviously it’s history, these were real people who were murdered, it’s a genuine mystery that will never really be unraveled now that everyone who was involved in it or might be invested in the outcome is dead and gone. That transmutation of life into fictional clay is easier than perhaps it ought to be.

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