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Monster (2003)

tomatometer

82

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 184
Fresh: 151 | Rotten: 33

Charlize Theron gives a searing, deglamorized performance as real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, an intense, disquieting portrait of a profoundly damaged soul.

90

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 39
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 4

Charlize Theron gives a searing, deglamorized performance as real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, an intense, disquieting portrait of a profoundly damaged soul.

audience

81

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 82,878

My Rating

Movie Info

Model-turned-actress Charlize Theron leaves her glamorous image behind for this gritty drama, in which she plays a disturbed prostitute who becomes a serial killer. Aileen Wuornos (Theron) was a woman who survived a brutal and abusive childhood in Michigan to become a thick-skinned but emotionally damaged adult. Homeless most of her life, Wuornos subsisted by working as a street prostitute; later, when she was in Florida, down to her last five dollars and pondering suicide, she stopped into a

R,

Drama

Patty Jenkins

Jun 1, 2004

$34.2M

Newmarket Film Group - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (198) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (151) | Rotten (33) | DVD (39)

Ms. Theron has ventured far beyond mere surface impersonation -- although that is startling enough -- to an insightful penetration of her subject's psyche.

January 21, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the same way the beefed-up Theron fills the movie's tightly composed frames to bursting while pushing everything else to the margins, her showstopping rage blows through film like a tornado.

January 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brutal, brilliant, depressing and riveting.

January 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A small movie with a gigantic performance by Charlize Theron.

January 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If the film is a bit too soft on its subject, it is even more taken with its leading lady. Theron overwhelms.

January 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Powerful, painful for mature audiences only.

December 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

By "Monster's" end, nothingness replaces Aileen Wuornos' ferocity - evidence of exhaustive efforts from Patty Jenkins and Oscar-winner Charlize Theron to emphasize this serial killer's fraying sanity, not her crimes' sensationalism.

October 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Suite101.com
Suite101.com

The film's worth seeing for Charlize Theorn's stunning performance, based on complete physical and psychological transformation, but as a dramatic feature, it lacks an interesting perspective and is underpopulated in terms of characters.

May 4, 2010 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comments (2)
EmanuelLevy.Com

Charlize Theron gives her finest performance yet in the unlikely role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in this riveting depiction of the Florida prostitute's decent into madness.

May 11, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Theron is the most convincing actress to play Aileen Wuornos ever and really dives into the role...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Theron makes Aileen realistically frightening and unreachable at times. Murder in her hands is certainly not cool.

July 18, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

As impressive as [Charlize Theron's] transformation is, it's likely to spawn more discussions about acting than about the topic at hand.

June 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Makes you just want to back away for safety, but also cuts right through your heart for this long wounded creature.

May 26, 2007 Full Review Source: WBAI Web Radio
WBAI Web Radio

Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning toure de force!

April 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Princeton Town Topics
Princeton Town Topics

A powerful film, and Theron's performance is as spectacular as advertised.

April 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Theron gives a powerful, chameleon-like performance in this disturbing but very sad film that shows how harsh the world can seem to people living on the fringe of society.

December 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Fantastica Daily
Fantastica Daily

With the exception of Charlize Theron's masterful performance as Wuornos, the film is a misguided mess.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Monster may be an appropriate memorial to Wuornos, though it can't possibly be as sad and miserable as her poor life must have been.

January 27, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

... sometimes, method acting is its own worst enemy. Theron is very, very good ... but many close-ups seem almost calculated to keep reminding us of just how extraordinarily her appearance has been changed.

December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

Its plodding, sporadically effective script may not entice much, but it finds a haunting eloquence thanks to Theron's lacerating, career-defining performance.

September 30, 2004

...with more attention paid to shock than to storytelling, the violence and incredulity take the front seat...

June 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

El problema ante una actuación tan poderosamente asombrosa es que la película corre el riesgo de terminar siendo, "apenas", una pequeña película con una gran actuación.

June 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Aileen Wuornos for Dummies

May 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Not only is [Charlize] Theron completely convincing as Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos, she's virtually unrecognizable.

May 14, 2004

I can forgive the Oscar- winning makeover, but not the script-doctored romance

April 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Audience Reviews for Monster

Driven heavily by the milestone acting of Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, "Monster" is a showcase of talent for many Oscar seasons to come. Actresses all around the world should look up to Charlize Theron in this film, not to say that every actress should play this role, because films would be hard to watch if more were like this. This is the type of film I would recommend to someone if they are looking for brilliant performances over an engaging story. Not to say that the story is not terrific, because it is, but the way that it is presented, is unnecessarily brutal. It is a very graphic film, so I recommend with caution. The writing is very good in this film, the sets feel perfect for the tone of the film, the director definitely takes his time in the moments that count, and the casting of Charlize Theron, again, is beyond out of this world. It is a scary film to watch at times, but it is a perfect portrayal of this true story. It's not a perfect film overall, but it is a great one! I definitely recommend it, but please watch with a strong stomach.
August 16, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Amazing performances by the two leads makes this a film you'll never forget.
November 18, 2012
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Charlize Theron's performance as Aileen Wuornos is possibly the best I've ever seen. Prostitute turned killer, Aileen's relationship with Selby (Christina Ricci) turns tense and frustratingly accommodating as time ticks. Christina Ricci's performance cannot live up to her co-star, but she does a considerable job. What frustrated me was her character, and maybe she was like that, but for me, she was too accommodating to Aileen's needs and wants. A brilliant, haunting film, Monster is a small film with a gigantic performance by Charlize Theron for which she more than deserved her Oscar.
October 20, 2012
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

What a tortured life this woman led; a life of inferiority, confusion, violence, victimisation, prostitution, anger and ultimately, murder. Charlize Theron's utter transformation is what drives this film, her performance and physical emulation perfectly conveying the pain of her character. Personally, I feel the Oscars are a farce, but this performance truly deserved commendation.

'Monster' is the story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute from Florida who murdered seven men over the period of a year. The film gives a very human representation of Wuornos. One might think that the film's title would suggest otherwise; Wuornos was indeed a 'monster' in her final years, but the film's emphasis on the brutal, relentless path that led to her first killing shows the architecture of such a creation. But not for a second, I hasten to add, does the film condone her violence, she isn't glorified and she isn't vilified either, the film is so very downbeat and visceral that it would be impossible for anyone to be allured by it. 'Monster' is by no means the tale of one woman standing up against chauvinist pigs; her truly harrowing tale of nature, nurture and the consequences of violence is impartially told.

The film reflects on Wurnos' childhood, a time of sexual favours, inadequacy, rape and beatings. A narrative gap, which misses a dubious failed marriage and numerous arrests, presents the viewer with a sorry picture, a woman who washes in petrol station toilets; a woman who is desperately trying to make ends meet. She then meets a companion, the vulnerable Selby Moore. It's at this point that the film strays from the facts; 'Selby Moore' is a fictional character, very loosely based, especially in appearance, to Tyria Moore, Wuornos' lover until her execution.

The pair, who have moved in together, live off Wuornos' prostitution wage until their relationship is complicated by Moore's discovery of Wuornos' taste for violence. The film depicts the first murder as Wuornos described it; self defence. Her first victim was Richard Mallory, a convicted rapist. Aileen stated that he raped and savaged her, so she shot him. I'm digressing slightly, but I believe this to be true; Mallory would've thought Wuornos to be trash, expendable social underclass who would be an easy thrill with no consequences. I respect that the scene was orchestrated in this manner.

Monster is a stark and balanced insight into the frankly miserable life of Aileen Wuornos. Everyone is given one life; Aileen Wuornos was given hers.
December 21, 2011
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

    1. Aileen Wuornos: So I made a deal. I said God I gotta spend this 5 bucks but when it's gone so am I so, if you got something for me in this life you better bring it on, and there she was.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (8 months ago)
    1. Aileen Wuornos: I loved her. And the thing no one ever realized about me or believed was that I could learn. I could train myself into anything. People always look down their noses at hookers. Never give you a chance cause they think you took the easy way out. When no one could imagine the will power it took to do what we do, walking the streets night after night. Taking the hits and still getting back up. But I did and they'd all miss out. Cause they had no idea what I could discipline myself too and I believed in something - and I believed in her.
    – Submitted by Samira O (18 months ago)
    1. Aileen Wuornos: People always look down their noses at hookers. Never give you a chance, because they think you took the easy way out, when no one could imagine the willpower it took to do what we do. Walking the streets, night after night, taking the hits and still getting back up.
    – Submitted by Samira O (18 months ago)
    1. Aileen Wuornos: All you need is love and to believe in yourself.
    2. Aileen Wuornos: [scoffs] Nice idea. It doesn't exactly work out that way. But I guess it was better to hear a flat-out lie than to know the truth at 13.
    – Submitted by Samira O (18 months ago)
    1. Aileen Wuornos: All you need is love and to believe in yourself. Nice idea. It doesn't exactly work out that way. But I guess it was better to hear a flat-out lie than to know the truth at 13.
    – Submitted by Siddharth S (22 months ago)
    1. Aileen Wuornos: Love conquers all. Every cloud has a silver lining. Faith can move mountains. Love will always find a way. Everything happens for a reason. Where there is life, there is hope.
    2. Aileen Wuornos: [laughs]
    3. Aileen Wuornos: Oh, well... They gotta tell you somethin'.
    – Submitted by Elí L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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January 12, 2006:
Theron Gets Ready to Produce Some "Ice"
According to Variety, the lovely Ms. Charlize Theron is about to reunite with the producer behind...

Foreign Titles

  • Monster (2004) (CA)
  • Monster (2004) (ES)
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