The film which introduced director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) to filmgoers and, in many respects, the talent of Charlize Theron. Previously, though an admired actress she was seen as a just another pretty face. Monster, the based on the real life story of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos, really demonstrated what Theron was and is capable of.
Though she began life as most do with an optimistic outlook and hoping for the best things from life, it does not work out that way for Aileen. It became so tough that she had to turn to highway prostitution to try to support herself. I don’t have to explain to you all that it is a rough and dangerous life.
After meeting a young naive woman named Selby (Christina Ricci – Sleepy Hollow, Casper), who is gay, she begins what probably is the first true relationship of her life. Definitely the first one with another woman. Though they want to be together the way that is going to happen is making some money. Neither really have any marketable skills. Aileen even goes out on some job interviews, but is never taken seriously. So she goes back to prostitution.
One night out with a man (Lee Tergesen – from television’s Oz) in a car in a remote local it becomes apparent to her that he is going to kill her, so she does what she has to in order to live. She pulls her gun and kills him. This sets her off on a series of bodies. Of Johns which she kills, takes their car and money to survive on. Her hatred for men is palatable.
Violence becomes everything she is. Though she keeps it from Selby as long as she can, eventually Selby finds out and the two are on the run from the police, who are hunting for the serial killer of men. Time is running out for the two as a couple and for Aileen in regards to her freedom.
With this film it was the perfect example of someone inhabiting a character. Theron was applauded at the time for all the physical changes she underwent to portray Aileen Wuornos. She gained weight, used prosthetics, make up, and a wig to physically transform herself. But she did not stop there. It was really everything. Her voice, the way she walked…everything. A case of before our eyes, an actress who became someone else. And as a result told the story of another human being.
This, however, was a different kind of story from most. Because of the wonderful performance by Theron, Aileen Wuornos is a fully fleshed out human being. She is, despite the fact that she was a killer, someone we had compassion for. We saw why she was the way she was. It wasn’t from no where. She was the product of her life. A tough life. A life filled with violence and people who treated her like garbage.
There is a moral and emotional complexity at play here. So many levels. All heartbreaking. Just an illustration of life not being fair. Of how poverty is tough on many levels. Throughout the film your emotions will change. You will feel rather mixed about the lead character. Things that you will not feel mixed about are actress Theron and director Jenkins along with the high quality of the film.
It is often hard to watch. The violence is realistic. Horrific. The fact that a woman is so damaged by the life she is forced to live is heartbreaking.
-Film Mixing Demo
-Interview with Patty Jenkins + BT
-Previews of In the Cut, Monsieur Ibrahim, Trapped