HPPUB MOVIE REVIEWs of Monster; Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer


Title:  Monster

Release Date:  2003

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 109 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:   New Market

Director; Writer: Patty Jenkins


Cast: Charlize Theron, Selby Wall    


Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:  homosexuality “gone wrong” perhaps



Monster (2003, New Market, directed by Patty Jenkins, 109 min, R) is a biography of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), who was executed in Florida in October 2002 after “rolling” and shooting several johns when “working” as a hooker. The spree starts with self-defense, when a customer tries to rape her. In the meantime, she has evolved into a lesbian relationship with Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), which grows increasingly desperate. The film does present well the “zero tolerance” treatment of her by an increasingly polarized and stratified society (the job interview scene with the lawyer is especially chilling). In the end, she is a Monster. This is hardly representative of GLBT film, and it is indeed an anomaly; her problems seem to stem when she simply falls off the train and simply has no outlet except for rage. The johns are also creepy: middle-aged overweight and withering men with balding legs as well as pates. They are hardly looking for sexual princesses. The filmmaking, with its narrative simplicity (it reminds one of “The Onion Field” and “Blood Simple” in places) is masterful in its abstraction, yet it still comes across as a study or “etude” with no real redeeming message. On Feb 14 2004 I saw the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, directed by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, from HBO/ Lantern Lane Entertainment; in the meantime visit Roger Ebert’s review at the Chicago Sun Times. Some (such as ABC’s John Stossel) have criticized Monster as, by comparison, a “fact or fiction” melodrama. But the new documentary (Broomfield had made one in 1992 about her) leaves open a bit the question of any self-defense. (On the other hand in her 1992 interview she had insisted that all the murders had been self-defense.) The on-location scenes in her home state of Michigan near the end of the film, however grainy, are chilling. The real Aileen is shocking, and the performance in Monster by Charlize Theron is amazingly close to the mark (she gained thirty pounds for the role, and won Best Actress for 2003.)  I note with some humor that the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives also is stopping and starting every commercial break with its gradual unveiling of a female serial killer (Marlena), “the Salem stalker,” in this case an M.D.




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