Former glamour girl Charlize Theron delivers such a physically and
emotionally intense characterization in this grim, gritty tale that it's one of
the year's most outstanding performances. On the other hand, watching this film
is like observing a fatal car crash, compelling yet repellent.
It's the bitter, sordid story of notorious Aileen Wuornos, who was
glorified by the press that, inaccurately, dubbed her America's first female
serial killer after she confessed to murdering six men in the late 1980s and
early '90s. Raised by an abusive family, Aileen says she was repeatedly beaten
and raped as a child, a speculation which writer/director Patty Jenkins uses to
explain her profane paranoia, despairing depravity and monotonous victimization
as a roadside prostitute.
The brief period covered by this film is 1989-90, when Aileen was hooking
along Florida's highways and engaged in a lesbian relationship with naive Selby
Wall (Christina Ricci). When a john turns violent, Aileen kills him in
self-defense, pocketing his money and stealing his car. She doesn't tell Selby
at the time, but they both relish the new-found wealth. That windfall leads to
more horrific murders which become an emotional vent for Aileen's ferocious
anger against men.
Reminiscent in its bleakness to "Boys Don't Cry," for which Hilary Swank
won an Academy Award, "Monster" could propel Charlize Theron to an Oscar.
Credit makeup artist Toni G, who disguised the statuesque actress's natural
beauty with crooked teeth, mottled skin, etc., along with Theron's 30-pound
weight gain. For that reason, you might find this mediocre movie interesting.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Monster" is a unflinching, fatalistic
6. Curiously, the "Monster" refers not only to Aileen but also to a giant
Ferris wheel that is part of her sad fantasy.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger