I put off seeing this movie for a very long time (obviously since it’s now 2008). Every aspect of it’s production seemed like it would make a mediocre film. The original score is written by BT, the guy who wrote the score to Fast and the Furious. The writer/director, Patty Jenkins, hadn’t directed a feature length film before this. Charlize Theron has talent, but chooses to waste it on shitty films like Hancock, Sweet November, Devil’s Advocate, and others (see her imdb page for a list of shockingly boring movies). Christina Ricci also has talent, but again, usually wastes it. The only thing that eventually convinced me to watch this film is the fact Theron won the Oscar for her performance.
Monster is the true story (I’m not sure how dramatized it is) of Aileen Wuornos (Theron), a Daytona Beach prostitute who finds love in a young lesbian named Selby (Ricci). After one job goes bad, very bad, Aileen kills her John in self-defense and decides to hide the body. After that, she can’t go back to hooking and kills all the men that pick her up (besides this one guy who stutters and thanks her for the hand-job, but that might be just the drama talking, and not real life). She becomes one of America’s ‘first woman serial killers.’
While a certainly a fascinating true-life drama, Jenkins doesn’t really choose to let the characters’ interaction tell the story, and instead turns this into a pity party for Aileen. You see, Aileen had a bad childhood, so we’re supposed to look the other way when she kills the men that pay her for sex. I’m not saying that she was purely a ‘monster’ as the press referred to her, but I was slightly offended that the film seemed to be two hours of excuses of why she did what she did. The plot wasn’t horrible, the character development wasn’t hugely lacking, but watching it, I just kind of felt, ‘…eh,’ except on the issue of Theron’s performance. Jenkins also, for whatever reasons, chose to focus on the sordid, lesbian relationship an undue amount. Which, in fact, distracted from the storyline, more than added. Under any other circumstances, however, watching Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci make out would be a pleasant experience.
It truly was remarkable to watch Theron transform into this sexually confused, physically unattractive, serial murderer. Theron’s previous film right before Monster was made, was that Mini Cooper commercial…what was that called again? Oh, The Italian Job. But you wouldn’t recognize her between the two roles. Check her out here to see how much she changed. Thanks to gaining a few pounds for the role, some intense makeup and a dental prosthesis, she’s completely unrecognizable. But beyond the superficial, her acting was awe-inspiring. And will, unfortunately, cause you to feel that somehow, the system failed Aileen, and we as a society, are to blame. The plot may leave you unsatisfied, but the acting will restore your faith in the Academy’s choices.
If you want to watch something really disturbing, watch the real Aileen Wuornos interviewed one day before her execution in 2002.