a critiQal film review Monster (2003)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Aileen (Theron) is a hooker. During a drunken night she meets someone new: Selby (Ricci). Right before their first big date, Aileen is brutalized during a "trick", and ends up killing her attacker. As her already abused psyche tries to cope with this new attack, she grows more and more attracted to Selby. But, as her killing ways continue, it's unlikely this will turn out well.

602 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 0s)
  • ...a shocking and disturbing story brought to life with a truly amazing performance by Charlize Theron.

I’d heard more about Monster than I had about the real-life story it was based on. The reviewers all seemed to rave, which is somewhat of a rarity, as most reviewers (Heather and myself included) don’t tend to all agree.

With Charlize Theron getting a best actress nod, and the rave reviews continuing once Monster hit DVD, it looked as if this was going to be one movie I would just have to see. So finally, I did.

Charlize Theron jumps into her role in Monster, accompanied by some of the ugliest makeup the world has seen. Not only did she subject herself to that everyday, she actually gained a bunch of weight for the film as well.

Now, knowing she is an ex-model, that had to be doubly hard. To lose your beauty and your figure? Wow – what else does the typical model have?

In any event, Charlize delved so deep into the character, she became the character, inside and out. It’s a truly amazing performance, and one that will draw viewers in right from the start.

Christina Ricci was also a great choice for girlfriend Selby. Her innocence in Monster is clearly shown through her face without her even having to say a word. Her performance couldn’t match up to the stunning show that Charlize was giving, but then again, it doesn’t need to. The two of them teamed up incredibly well together (which might make viewers wonder where Ms. Ricci has been the last couple of years. What was her last movie, The Opposite of Sex?).

Monster is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos (the so-called “Damsel of Death”), so had a good hook for viewers right from the start. With the big craze of serial killers that has encompassed the country since back in Bundy’s day, and now the advent of 24-hour true crime “Court TV”, it’s a shoo-in for hooking the viewer.

Some people may say this obsession with serial killers is just mankind slipping ever downward, but I disagree. Most people are more likely interested in it because they want to know what makes someone like that tick. Are they wired differently, or what? It’s this obsession with knowing what’s behind the monster on the news that’s caused this big eruption of serial killer media.

Knowing that, many films try to glamorize serial killers (after all, Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees are some of the most recognizable movie characters of all time – both serial killers). Monster tried a different tact. Knowing it was based on a true story, they tried to tell the story behind the headlines, behind the TV news. It seems to say that no matter what the media portrayed, there was at least a little bit of human left in the ravaged brain of this woman.

It’s an interesting way to tell the story, because it almost seems to present a dichotomy: she’s out murdering people while at the same time trying to discover something she wants to live for. While the movie does slow in parts, the overall effect is tremendous, and definitely worth checking out for yourself.

It’s a shocking and disturbing story that this film takes you through, while at the same time showing a woman re-discovering the joys of a new love, all brought to you by a truly amazing performance by Charlize Theron. It’s a rough journey, and it won’t have you rooting for Aileen by the end, but Monster does what it sets out to do: it tells you the story of Aileen Wuornos – behind the cameras and off the nation’s spotlight.

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