Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 188


Audience Score

User Ratings: 84,689
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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 bar for a beer. There, Aileen met Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), a woman in her early twenties who had been sent to live with relatives after her Christian parents became aware of her lesbian lifestyle. Selby is immediately attracted to Aileen, and while Aileen tells Selby she's never been in a lesbian relationship, she soon finds herself equally infatuated with her. Selby runs away from her family and moves into a cheap hotel with Aileen, who initially pays the bills by hooking. However, as their money runs low and Aileen finds herself unable to land a regular job, tensions mount between the two. One night, after a john attacks her, Aileen pulls a gun and kills the man. Although her first murder can be categorized as self-defense, Aileen's loathing for the men who pay her for sex becomes so extreme that she begins killing her customers regardless of their behavior. Meanwhile, Selby slowly becomes aware of the full extent of her lover's instability and the bloody consequences of her actions. Monster was inspired by the true story of Aileen Wuornos, whose life and death was chronicled in two documentaries by filmmaker Nick Broomfield, Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, and Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Charlize Theron
as Aileen Wuornos
Christina Ricci
as Selby Wall
Bruce Dern
as Thomas
Scott Wilson
as Horton (Last John)
Pruitt Taylor Vince
as Gene (Stuttering John)
Lee Tergesen
as Vincent Corey
Annie Corley
as Donna Tentler
Marc Macaulay
as Will Grueser
Brett Rice
as Charles
Robb Chamberlain
as Lead Prosecutor
Chandra Leigh
as Cute Teenager Attendant
Tim Ware
as Chuck
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News & Interviews for Monster

Critic Reviews for Monster

All Critics (188) | Top Critics (40)

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

    Apr 15, 2004 | Full Review…
  • Theron offers a tender performance of fractured humanity, while Ricci -- in the less showy role -- also impresses.

    Apr 6, 2004 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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

    Jan 21, 2004 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top 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.

    Jan 16, 2004 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Brutal, brilliant, depressing and riveting.

    Jan 16, 2004 | Rating: 5/5
  • A small movie with a gigantic performance by Charlize Theron.

    Jan 16, 2004 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Monster

  • Aug 10, 2017
    One of the hardest things to do is made a typically unsympathetic character sympathetic. Monster deals with a famous serial killer from the early 1990's who believed she was killing for good reasons. Finding a way to write a direct such a character so that the audience doesn't automatically despise your lead is a difficult thing to do. Patty Jenkins and Charlize Theron found a way to do just that with Aileen Wuornos. The story deals with Aileen, who has had a rough life to say the least. She's been a prostitute since an early teen, physically abused by her family, and has been homeless for years ever since being kicked out of her home. Just by hearing that, there's at least some sense of pity I feel for her. This all leads to her meeting Selby Wall (based on Tyria Moore). The film portrays both of them at a rough patch in their life, which makes it all the more timely that they meet each other. After a relatively sweet romance for the first 40 minutes of the film, Aileen begins her crime spree. We may never know exactly how it all went down, but if she originally killed first victim because he was raping her and likely going to murder her, then I can feel a lot of sympathy towards her. As I said, Jenkins makes a choice to present Aileen as a victim herself, but that changes about halfway through. But I really appreciate the balance Jenkins gives to the crimes. They aren't faceless crimes without purpose, she's doing them for love and because her life is close to worthless without the money she's getting. By no means does that dismiss her from having any guilt, as no one should be murdered, but you can begin to understand her mindset just a little bit. It doesn't hurt that you have a great actress like Charlize Theron to build your film around, as she earned an Oscar for her turn as Aileen. It was well deserved I may add. Overall, Monster is a fascinating movie to get inside of a murderous psychopath, but it's more the moments of humanity in Aileen that stand out the most. 7.4/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 16, 2016
    Patty Jenkins does a bang up job writing and directing this thumbnail bio based on the eye popping true story about a hooker turned serial killer. Charlize Theron really gets into the skin of a soul abused for years and violently desperate for any kind of real affection, and Christina Ricci so inhabits the role as the vessel of that affection that I began to hate the truth depicted in their relationship. Overall a visceral film experience, not for the faint of heart.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 31, 2013
    It seems that at certain points in an attractive actress' career, that she has to don the makeup to look hideous in order to prove that she can act. It is unfortunate but true. Charlize passes the test by not only looking the part but becoming the true monster that Aileen Wuornos is.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2013
    This 2003 crime drama about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men was probably over the top for me. Wuornos was played by Charlize Theron, and her fictionalized lover, Selby Wall (based on Wuornos' real-life companion Tyria Moore), was played by Christina Ricci. I admire the writer and director Patty Jenkins for the work done, but I am not in a group of great fans of this movie. I liked it, but really wasn't feeling as a part of the events - for me was always something out there to watch and review. I am aware that Theron received overwhelming critical acclaim and won seventeen awards for her portrayal, including the Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress. Theron's performance garnered Monster's only Academy Award nomination. And that summarize it because this was only the fifth time in the history of the Academy Awards in which a film's lead actress was its sole nomination and won. She wore this film on her shoulders, and from time to time I was expecting a stumble. The story of Aileen Wuornos, a female prostitute, meeting Selby Wall in a gay bar seemed forced and lacking fine storytelling skills. It was a mix of a romance, love story, crime drama - but the mix at the end left strong aftertaste, not always pleasant. A sad life of a sad individual who needed love and got nothing but hurt. It is a film to watch, definitely, and the reason is the Charlize Theorn's stunning performance, based on complete physical and psychological transformation, but as a dramatic feature - don't expect too much. Cinematography was just average, it lacks an interesting perspective and characters are not there as a important part of the story, mainly as "props". Of course, this is just my opinion.
    Panta O Super Reviewer

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