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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Monster

Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci
Director: Patty Jenkins
Rated: R
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: January 2004
Genres: Drama, Thriller

*Also starring: Bruce Dern, Scott Wilson, Lee Tergesen, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Annie Corley, Marco St. John, Bubba Baker, Marc Macaulay, Brett Rice

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

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

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