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Saw this on DVD in Fla as a teenager in my old bedroom.
The characters aren't exactly like able. But in their intense situations you get tears for them
Monster is undoubtedly very questionable in its sympathetic portrayal of Aileen Wuornos and it is problematic in the things that it ignored to portray, but it does explore very well what led to her horrible crimes, and it succeeds in both its crime elements and as a moving lesbian romance. Christina Ricci is very good here, but it is Charlize Theron who acted out her every conflict, guilt, outburst and mental illness with incredible skills, leading to what is one of the greatest acting performances of this decade.
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Impressive from Charlize Theron.
A gripping crime character study about a woman driven to violence.
Director Patty Jenkins' indie crime drama Monster (2003) is a brutal story about a woman serial killer, who life was devastatingly sad and impossibly hard, and thus was pushed into a life of prostitution and murder. Her choice to start murdering male patrons of her sexual favors, as Jenkins writes her, is entirely her decision with horrifying results. Monster is hard to watch, but thanks to Jenkins' stunning direction, you cannot look away.
Patty Jenkins finds solace in unnerving her audience with a series of cold-blooded murders after a vicious rape sequence. Monster will surely trigger and shock viewers everywhere. It is so gritty and realistic, it's like watching these dire events occur in real time. Jenkins bravely does not shy away from showing abuse, rape, murder, as well as the covering up of these acts. She directs the rape sequence as cruel, intense, and frightening, so that no one can misunderstand it as an appealing act for the male gaze.
Furthermore, the majority of Monster is actually more focused on the killer finding money for food and transportation for her lesbian girlfriend. Monster is a crime drama and romance drama alike. Jenkins directs Monster with a sympathy for the killer as she endures so much abuse that for the audience her murders are justified until the last man she kills unnecessarily. Jenkins gives her murderer motivation for her killings with her past trauma, constant danger, and potential future with her new lover girlfriend. Although murder is wrong and I feel bad that men are killed, but I find their deaths deserving for being sick men. Her character clearly justifies her murders as self defense and self preservation alike. I strongly empathize more with the killer, which I think is Jenkins' point that society makes women fearful for their lives because of violent men.
The make-up is grotesque to watch as the make-up artists managed to somehow make Charlize Theron not look like her natural beautiful self. Her matted hair, gained weight, disheveled clothes, gnarly teeth, and lack of make-up of her face transform Theron into a hideous figure indeed. Charlize earns her Best Actress Oscar with her own acting as serial killer Aileen. She is genuinely touching as she tries to survive on her own terms, but Theron is just as scary a killer in her ruthless and sterile shootings. Theron pulls off a very difficult and complex role with subtle emotional displays as well as bursts of angry energy.
Christina Ricci is fantastic as the lesbian lover Selby to Charlize. Her whining and neediness is apparent, alongside Ricci's portrayal of her selfish naivety. Ricci plays up Selby's uselessness and ignorance, while also making her character deeply sympathetic coming from an unsupportive home of homophobes and racists. I adore Christina Ricci as an actress and she is just as impressive as Charlize Theron in Monster. They pair well together with a mad chemistry and sympathetic desperation. Ricci screaming at Charlize in their hotel room is as powerful as indie dramas get!
I should mention Bruce Dern and Scott Wilson have wonderful supporting roles as kindly old men that meet Charlize's fearsome men killer.
In all, Patty Jenkins establishes herself as an auteur to be reckoned with her grounded crime drama Monster. The quiet old school soundtrack offsets the vicious violence on screen and sullen times endured. Charlize Theron has to be seen to be believed in Monster's unreal murder spree story. I highly recommend paying attention to Christina Ricci's brilliantly endearing and searing role as supporting actress to Charlize.
Some characters act a little over-the-top and I thought the pacing had some issues mostly in the first half, but it's helped greatly by Charlize Theron's performance in this harsh and sympathetic biopic on Aileen Wuornos.
Monster without any hesitation showcases and sheds light on one of the most notorious serial killers America has ever had, and with its raw, unapologetic and what it feels authentic approach gives for a hell of a great character exploration. Patty Jenkins treats its subject with care and respect without disregarding, sugarcoating or losing focus on what matters the most about this true story. It also does an incredible job at, as I mentioned, really fleshing out its main character and showing the events that led her to what she ultimately became, giving audiences an incredible understanding and new sympathetic point of view that even when she commits these horrible crimes you instead of hating her you genuinely feel for her, to some extent you understand why she's doing it and even if it is utterly wrong you know that she wholeheartedly believed to be doing the right thing. Also, something that can't go untalked about and something that also elevated the film itself is Charlize Theron's outstanding, realistic and masterful performance, which just gives for a more real portray of these unfortunate events.
Charlize Theron in Monster is the great performance by an actress in the history of cinema
God, this movie left me depressed. I thought about the mistakes I had made in my past and my ambivalence about my future as I saw a woman trapped by her circumstances take horrific actions to try and achieve a strange version of the American dream. This film is most famous for giving us Charlize Theron's most famous performance as she de-glams to play a prostitute turned serial killer while being an extraordinarily beautiful, talented movie star in real life. The film's director Patty Jenkins has also come back into prominence by directing the popular Wonder Woman (2017) which isn't my favorite film but this movie shows what a female perspective can do for a difficult story. This is not one to watch if you are in a hard place or susceptible to depression but if you want to see great performances and a well made but dark film this is worth watching.
Prostitute Aileen Wuornos, Charlize Theron, sees a way out of her lonely, depressing life in her newfound relationship with the innocent Selby Wall, Christina Ricci, who faces her own pressures at home. Wuornos sabotages herself when she murders a man who raped and abused her while she was working but is able to return to normal life soon after. With the money she stole from her victim she is able to support herself and Selby but finds it difficult to earn enough to support her partner and continues committing crimes to keep herself afloat. Wuornos is eventually discovered as her killing spree continues and is sentenced to death by lethal injection as she admits her crimes.
The most incredible thing that the film is able to do is humanize a woman who was a truly terrifying killer who did not just murder men who attacked her but also innocent clients. We empathize with her though as we watch her desperately try to become normal and get a job as a paralegal but be rejected due to her appearance and lack of education. The love story between Selby and Aileen as they dance to "Don't Stop Believing'" and argue in lesbian bars is sweet even as we see that Selby is too childish to have a proper relationship and Aileen is well, a psycho. We invest in Aileen as a human being before seeing her commit these crimes and we feel for even in the moments we see directly after she has killed innocents.
The film also fills you with a terrible sense of dread, not about the killings depicted but about how the cycle of poverty can create monsters like this. Just thinking of how you could end up poor and destitute with no hope of getting out and an overwhelming pressure to commit terrible acts is enough to make the film unique in my eyes. Most of us are not born attractive and talented and yet we are told that if we dream enough and try to chase those dreams even if we don't have the necessary skills and that frustration is seen accurately here. The relationship between the two main characters is obviously flawed but they seem like real people in that way as they are looking for somebody to stop feeling so alone instead of finding a real connection. I don't want to feel the way that Monster makes me feel, I had an all consuming feeling of dread during and after watching the film, but I do admire the film for it's ability to bring out such strong emotions in me. I feel like Monster's Ball (2001) was trying to emotionally manipulate me in the same way that this film does and this film is a lot more successful in it's mission.
Theron's performance is undeniably brilliant even as she produced an unfortunate series of imitators hoping to win Academy Awards. She does more than just outwardly transform into her character as she gives Aileen personality even as she is ineloquent and unattractive. She makes us believe that this woman was able to justify her actions through reasoning and logic and in that way she gives us an in to a seemingly impenetrable character.
This is a hard, hard film to watch pretty much throughout but it does have a meaning behind the horror it shows and that makes it worth watching.