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Review: Monster (2003)

Monster (2003)

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Premise: A biopic of Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), a highway prostitute who killed several men in the 1980s. The film addresses her relationship with Selby (Christina Ricci) and her descent into violence.

What Works: Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci are at the top of their game. The story is told in such a way that we are given the conditions of Wuornos’ increasing violence and the film’s portrayal of her descent into antisocial behavior is heartbreaking. It is made so emotional because of the relationship between Theron and Ricci’s characters. The film smartly sets up this touching love story and then carefully and strategically allows it to crash, with Wuornos’ sense of right and wrong along with it. While Monster makes Wuornos a full blooded character, the film does not condone or excuse her crimes. 

What Doesn’t: My cautions are not faults of the film. However, those who are looking for a splatter picture won’t find it here. Also, those who struggle with onscreen violence may have difficulty with the uncompromising reality of the film. 

DVD Extras: A featurette on the sound design of the film.

Bottom Line: Charlize Theron won the Oscar for her performance as Wuornos and rightfully so. When most Hollywood stars portray a blue collar character, the glamour of their status shows through (i.e. Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich). In Monster, Theron is gone from the screen. This is one of the best films I have seen in years and it puzzles me why this was not nominated for best picture. As a side note, those who are interested ought to check out Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer directed by John McNaughton and starring Michael Rooker, as it makes an interesting companion piece.

Episode: #7 (June 27, 2004)