Plot – Monster is based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer.
Director – Patty Jenkins
Starring – Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern.
Released – 2003
If you liked – Killer Joe, Boys Don’t Cry, Mulholland Drive
Patty Jenkins set out to make Monster a tough film to watch, and in that regard, she succeeded. Wuornos’ tortured soul and tough upbringing make us feel some sympathy for her, yet at the same time, we are revolted by the psychopathic tendencies she posses and the eventual murder spree that leads to her eventual capture and death. Jenkins expertly showcases the journey that Wuornos’ travelled to end up where she did. Trying hard not to explain her actions, but maybe explain them. Through skilled narrations, the viewer learns how hard Wuornos’ childhood and upbringing were, especially how her parents abandoned her at the hands of an abusive grandfather, before becoming a mother at the age of 14. It’s pretty safe to say that anyone who had to deal with what Wuornos did would be susceptible to mental health issues.
Sporting fake teeth, no make-up, messy hair and some prosthetics, Charlize Theron didn’t just resemble Wuornos but also embodied this troubled individual. But in my mind, the principal reason why Monster fails is because of the film’s tone. At times, you feel as if you’re watching a dark romantic melodrama similar to Bonnie and Clyde or Heavenly Creatures, but then the movie will change into something reminiscent of Seven or Zodiac. Leaving you unsure if you’re viewing the crimes through Wuornos’s eyes or as an outsider.
For the lead performances by both Theron and Ricci and interesting plotline that gives us an interesting glimpse into the life and crimes of notorious female serial killer Aileen Wuornos, overall, Monster is a film worth seeing, it’s just a shame that Jenkins wasn’t able to decide if it was nature or nurture that caused this woman to become a mass murderer better handling.