This is a competent made-for-TV movie, about average, maybe an iota above that. You can't complain about the acting. Jean Smart has just about the proper appearance, and is of the right age, to be Aileen Wuornos. Unglamorized she seems somewhat used. It's as if she'd once been bruised all over her face and body and has now just about, but not quite, healed. The chief investigator -- Tim Grimm? -- is usually a heavy, and here he looks better than he acts. The director moves the bodies around in front of the camera efficiently. Locations are put to good use, although seeing a meeting of the head detectives take place on an inviting beachfront plaza is a bit disconcerting and suggests a kind of forced use of the scenery. Like Dirty Harry having a chat with his colleagues in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course a lot of the dialogue needed to be invented, and the script is weak here and there. When one investigator shouts at the others, something like, "What if she shoots somebody else while we're waiting around? How would you feel about that!", it's a bit hard to swallow -- the notion that an experienced and hardened homicide investigator is going to talk like some guy in a Gestalt group therapy session -- although it's the kind of line that might come readily to a scriptwriter working hurriedly and drawing on his own background. Aileen Wuornos must have been an interesting character. The script tries to explain her serial killings (and all her other less lethal offenses since she was thirteen) by using what's come to be called the abuse excuse. "There is some indication that she was raped as a child by both her brother and step-father," intones a cop. Ho hum. The logical fallacy here is known as "post hoc ergo propter hoc" -- after this, therefore because of this. Certain kinds of social pathology have a tendency to show up more often in particular sectors of social space. It isn't that child abuse and serial killings are exclusively found in one class-related life style than another; it's just that they tend to be concentrated there. You expect impoverished disorganized families to produce child abusers, burglars, pointless murders, and lots of other kinds of illegal behavior, just as you expect a prep school education to be associated with white collar crime. A sad fact but true. But correlation doesn't necessarily mean causality. Because things go together doesn't mean one causes the other. The movie as a whole seems to be biased in favor of Aileen Wuornos and gives her most of the breaks. Not only was she raped, or so it is claimed, but her lesbianism, if that's what it was, is glossed over. And the man we see her kill, an ex police officer, is a pig of a human being -- fat, balding, domineering, brutal, selfish, and probably pulled the wings off flies when he was a kid. If anybody deserves to get it, he surely does. Another development, not the fault of the film, that leaves a kind of sour aftertaste is the betrayal of Aileen by her girlfriend, Tyrea or whatever it was. On a tapped phone, Tyrea prompts Aileen into confessing that she, Aileen, killed those guys all by herself. Tyrea had no idea. Tyrea was also a material witness against Aileen at the trial. Well, it's the smart thing to do, but it doesn't endear Tyrea to us. I felt the same way about Edmond O'Brien's role as an undercover cop in "White Heat," when he insinuates himself into James Cagney's trust and then eagerly squeals on him and shoots him. Or Linda Tripp for somewhat lesser transgressions. I realize it's necessary to keep the streets as clear of murderers as they are, but I wish that doing so didn't require us to play dirty moral pool. Aileen's confession didn't help her any. She was just executed a few weeks ago, Florida being the state that it is.
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