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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

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Charlize Theron's great performance saves MONSTER, which suffers from a mediocre script, aimless direction and a lackluster supporting cast. Bruce Dern's cameo is the only decent performance besides Theron's, who is like a star quarterback having the best game ever while playing behind a lazy line that has trouble throwing an effective block. But when you're watching one of the best performances of the year -- just give Theron the Oscar now and save the effort of voting -- you won't care that the rest of the movie has problems.

Based on the true story about the now executed prostitute and serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, the movie is unflinching in its portrayal of Aileen and her crimes. Charlize Theron plays Aileen, but, if I didn't tell you this, you'd never figure it out. The glamorous Theron, famous for such sexy parts as the recent THE ITALIAN JOB, looks completely different. With splotchy skin, uneven and oversized teeth, straw-like hair, and a beer belly, Theron looks so awful that she gives white trash a bad name. A nervous, fidgety, angry and explosively violent character, Aileen -- or so the story claims -- starts off her murder spree after being raped and beaten. A hooker since she was thirteen, she gives up the life of a whore for that of a murderer in order to support her newfound girlfriend, Selby Wall, played lamely and unbelievably by Christina Ricci.

"I'm good with the Lord," a trembling Aileen tells Selby while pointing to heaven after Selby asks about the killings. Aileen feels that her actions are justified even though one of the men she murders wasn't a John at all but a Good Samaritan who just offered her help.

The performance by Theron is such a tour de force that you'll soon find yourself ignoring the plot and the unconvincing actors who play the victims. Rarely has an actor been given such an opportunity to play so far against type and rarely has she succeeded so well.

MONSTER runs too long at 1:51. It is rated R for "strong violence and sexual content, and for pervasive language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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