Monster is the story of a woman whose hopeful acting career becomes nothing but an unpleasant failure. But this all too common story has an unsettling twist – death.
In director Patty Jenkins’ true account of a Florida highway hooker-turned-murderer, we see a woman full of pain, rage and misery. The main character, Aileen “Lee” Wuornos, is overwhelmingly full of discontent; Jenkins’ approach to the way such a character feels, reacts and survives with such an unpleasant life, is nothing short of astonishing.
Charlize Theron plays Lee Wuornos and does so almost unrecognizably. The first time we see this woman, we regard her as just a junkie gracing the screen with filth and smart remarks. Lee, making for a very impressive shock, sets the tone for a disconcerting story.
Unable to find an alternate career, Lee is left trying to survive. As her abused mind takes control, Lee turns back to prostitution, regardless of how deadly such a livelihood will become.
When Lee’s relationship with her lesbian lover Selby (Christina Ricci) becomes a way out of prostitution, she takes the chance. But before moving forward, one last job pushes Lee into a fatal clash with her “client,” spinning her into a more complex lifestyle than even before.
Theron has shown her talents in this role. Theron gained about 20 pounds for the film. Her appearance is completely altered and she becomes the character almost effortlessly. She morphs into the many sides of Aileen Wuornos with ease. Her chemistry with Ricci is intense and believable.
What is most rewarding about Monster is its simplicity of such a complex story. We are able to understand the turbulent world of Aileen Wuornos. We feel for her troubled life, however, we are never sympathetic. Monster is the real deal.
Kevin Nolty can be reached at Knolty@aol.com