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Why would someone want to be comment number 458? Because it might mean
something to somebody. This movie meant a lot to me.
I spent about four hours, sole-to-sole, in the back of a pickup truck hitch hiking with her and a friend of mine in Florida. This was before she had killed anybody, I believe.
Years later, I saw the "wanted" drawing. It sort of rang a bell, but a lot of usual suspects look like that, don't they? What are the chances? Then, they caught her and showed the first photo, then gave both the nickname (like a cousin), and the real name (like another cousin, only spelled in Irish.) At the time, she mentioned the spelling with an "A." I asked her if she was Irish and told her about my two cousins. What a small world, right? She either told me her last name and I assumed it, or told me she was Greek. The point being, the whole name aspect was the first part of a four hour life story discussion we had. And you don't forget four hours of a face like that either. The life stories matched. It was her.
The mood swings Charlize Theron portrays are perfect, as are the mannerisms, body language, clothes, teeth, complexion, hair, the body fat, manner of speaking, that strutting walk and just everything. It was absolutely uncanny. You never forget someone like that, and then when they pop up alive like that again. It was just unreal.
She was mood swinging, or perhaps "cycling," the whole time I was with her. I imagine if that was portrayed realistically, the movie would be unwatchable. I remember thinking at the time, her behavior seemed like the popular portrayal of those "possessed."
After I saw Monster more than twenty years later, I called the other guy that was with me. We have remained friends over the years. I told him "Oscar this, Oscar that," blah blah blah, just out of the shock of reliving the experience of Aileen again. The fact that she was played by the glamorous, beautiful, Charlize Theron on top of it, was beyond all comprehension. What a transformation! Of course, my beloved, goof-ball buddy was sitting beside her sleeping most of the time in the truck. His head kept on falling on her shoulder and she would push it off. It was like Three Stooges. They shared the Doritos like it was the school cafeteria or something. Can you imagine, in hindsight? Yes, it is good for a few jokes, I admit it. She hadn't killed anyone yet, so far as I can tell from reading about her and piecing the time-line back together. This was the first and only time I had been in Florida in those college-age days, so putting that together was fairly easy.
I don't know if I ever met anyone, before or since, that I have felt more sympathy for at the time. She was very talkative, about herself and the hard times she'd had. She was believable. She wasn't scamming us or anything, as I first suspected, just shooting the breeze. I wanted to cry for her. I think I even did so later, in hindsight. She was unreal. She had, what I thought, were "multiple personalities." Really just two, she would laugh one second, cry the next. She was like a big, tough hard-ass girl of eight years. She told me all about her childhood abuse, the horror of being a prostitute, and taking beatings and abuse from the men. She mentioned living in hotels. She didn't seem like too much of a drinker or a druggie. I just thought she was deeply, emotionally disturbed. In those days, we should have said "mental." My friend and I were a couple of happy middle-class college snowbird guys on Christmas break. She had about the worst kind of life of anyone I had ever met. She was only about four or five years older than us, but looked twice her age. When I thought later about the hand she was dealt, compared to mine, you better believe the religious feelings and tears well up. They still do. I can't bear to watch the movie sometimes, or at least parts of it.
Yes, what she did was wrong, if not evil. I don't think she was evil though, at all. She had the innocence lost, naive but semi-funny sweetness portrayed in the movie. I don't usually contemplate these things, its just that you could see there was a good person there, just profoundly _____ed up. For some reason, I was proud of her when she wanted the execution. She was nothing if not honest. As an outside observer, I don't know how you feel sorry for someone like that, but if you knew what happened, you just might. I have no agenda in that regard. Watch this and ask yourself if monsters are made, or are they born? This movie captures my feelings perfectly. If you have read this far, you can see the conflict. The movie reflects that so well, I can not do it justice by praising it with words.
If you were a victim of her actions, I wouldn't blame you for hating what I'm writing. If I read something like this about Charlie Manson, I'd never believe it.
I just want to thank everyone involved in telling this bizarre story.
I would advise people to see this if they want to be challenged, not just entertained. I've read some of the headlines on the index. So should you.
Based on a true story this movie is about Ailen Wuornos, a prostitute, who
killed quite a few men who she "serviced". She was convicted in 1990 and
executed in 2002.
She's played by Charlize Theron who's just incredible. It starts off just before she began murdering men and has met Selby (Christina Ricci), an adorable lesbian who loves her. It basically chronicles their relationship and what led Wuornos to kill these men. Also she reaccounts her childhood and how she became a prostitute. It's more than a little depressing--it's a tragic story of a beaten woman who saw murder as the only way out. Only three murders are shown and that's more than enough. The violence is not glorified--it's bloody and sick and one is the most harrowing thing I've seen in years. What's so fascinating (and scary) about this film is that I actually began to sympathize with Wuornos! While I could never condone her actions you can see clearly what led her to it. This is a rare film--it makes a serial killer look sympathetic.
Theron is a wonder in this--she became Wuornos (who was very unattractive). She gained weight, shaved off her eyebrows, colored her hair, used contacts and dentures to change her appearance completely. Never once did I think I was seeing Theron acting--she BECAME Wuornos. A great performance--she'll easily get the Oscar for this one. Ricci is also good here. She's been ignored in the press but she nicely underplays the role of Selby and is a perfect contrast to Theron's acting. Also nice to see Bruce Dern in a small role.
Music is used very effectively here. They play songs of the time it took place (1980s) so you know when this is happening and also nicely complements the actions on screen (especially with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing").
A very good movie but a very depressing one. Proceed at your own risk.
Charlize Theron's performance in this movie was so incredible I felt compelled to shout about it to every single person I know. I was so blown away by her that her performance actually reignited my own passion for acting and made me realize why I'm trying so hard to break into this business and to do it well. I never thought that Charlize Theron (of whom I was never a big fan) of all people could make me remember what movie-making is all about. With one role, she's converted me into a life-long fan. If Oscar means anything anymore, she deserves that award, hands-down. The movie itself is one of the most gripping and emotional stories I've ever seen in a film, and, true or not, its right up there with the other great indies depicting the sorry lives of Middle-Americans, such as Boys Don't Cry and, ironically, Monster's Ball. I wept straight through the last twenty minutes of this movie, continued weeping intermittently throughout the day, and wept some more about it during my preparation for acting class the following day. Before I saw the film, I saw Charlize on The Daily Show, talking to John Stewart about how Aileen Wuornos' story (and I'm paraphrasing) forces one to re-examine how we might label someone "evil" for doing horrible things. I thought, that's just a bunch of liberal bulls**t. Then I saw the movie. Like I said, we can't know how much of the movie is one-hundred percent factual, but it's almost scary how little that mattered to me after I left the theater. This film moved me so much that I actually decided then and there that I would, that I would have to, think a little harder the next time I thought of someone as "evil". If the goal of the filmmakers was to just try to get people to think about the fairness of the death penalty, I believe they succeeded.
For once the Oscar went to the most deserving. I was not sure I wanted to see this movie, but after seeing a trailer I became curious and decided to check it out. Charlize Theron completely blew me away! She is barely recognizable and seems to be channeling Wuornos at some points. Patty Jenkins is to be highly complimented on her writing and directing skills also. Rarely have I been so moved by a film but this one simply cuts to the core and leaves you raw. Wuornos was obviously not well, yet Jenkins provides insightful monologues that allowed me to understand and sympathize for Wuornos. It is a sad and moving movie. Never have I felt so disturbed yet riveted by a movie such as this one.
I watched this on video and was completely blown away. I thought Charlize Theron's performance as Aileen was extraordinary, not simply in the scenes with the men (especially the "last john", when she has to shut herself off from the humanity of the man she is about to kill) and in generally suggesting an increasingly out of control personality, but in the scenes with Shelby (Christina Ricci), right up to her near-breakdown when she is putting Shelby on the bus. Despite adverse comments from other reviewers, I consider Christina Ricci's portrayal of Shelby equally remarkable, conveying childlike naivety, seductiveness, stubbornness and growing manipulativeness very well. They dominate the film between them, but the supporting performances are fine also. I gave this 10 out of 10.
An intense, depressing movie. It sticks pretty close to the facts but
focuses chiefly on the relationship between Charlize Theron as Lee and
Christina Ricci as Selby. The police are hardly there at all. In fact,
neither is anyone else except for Bruce Dern who makes one or two short
but welcome appearances.
It could easily have been a by-the-numbers TV movie. (Come to think of it, it has, hasn't it? With Jean Smart?) But the production values are good, and the time and money has been spent on this film that we usually associate with feature films.
The cinematography is outstanding. The shots of Lee near the end of her rope, hitching on a foggy blue nightime Florida highway look like a desktop theme from some arty horror/occult site. The script doesn't have many tag lines. No "Rosebuds" or "I coulda been a contendah." Nor is it folksy or catching in some other way. The dialogue follows the story in being pretty straightforward and without much in the way of noticeable touches. The director should be commended on her handling of two things. One is the explanation for Lee's crimes. None is given. There is a short scene in which Lee tells one of her johns about her miserable childhood, but the abuse excuse is vitiated by Selby's mother, an orthodox and unimaginative woman, who says simply that lots of people have hard childhoods without growing up like Lee. And the men are not all turned into sadistic hogs, which must have been a temptation for the writers. The second virtue in the direction is its management of the murders. Instead of exploding heads, there are a few squibs, and usually not even that, before the victim yields to the fathomless, cool, enwinding arms of death. The themes explored here are not so much violence as love and desperation.
Ricci looks the part, with her broad forehead and tiny lips, but comes across more as a Valley Girl than the kind of outcast who would pick up and move off with someone like Lee.
Which brings us to Theron's performance as Lee. It's startling, of course, to see a glamor-puss like Theron so thoroughly deglamorized. It's the kind of performance that wins Academy Awards -- lesbians, the height-challenged, autistics, all have won awards in recent years. Theron deserves recognition for her effort too, but not just because of the makeup and wardrobe. They're all splendid. Makeup has shaved her brows to a Mona Lisa extent and turned her face just blotchy enough and given her a raggedy set of teeth.
But that's not all that has made her performance as the central character so memorable. (She's in almost every frame.) And it isn't the thirty or so pounds that she put on for the role either. What's so homeric about that? I can put on thirty pounds without blinking an eye, and enjoy doing it. Heck, I can put on forty or fifty if she wants to get into a peeing contest. No -- it's Theron herself who MAKES the character. She's great, particularly in her physical manifestation of Lee -- her body language, for instance. Instead of coasting through the role, she animates it. The way she struts around with her shoulders thrown back and her face down, emphasizing her several chins and the girth of her neck. Maybe it takes a profession ballerina to figure out these little techniques. Her voice isn't as coarse as that of a hooker who constantly puffs on cigarettes, but Theron does what she can with her own. She overcomes her native South African speech with no trouble and introduces us to a breathless bravado that she's never used on screen before -- not that I know of.
Her movements, her speech, her dreams, are filled with a desperate illusion that doesn't exactly make us feel sorry for her but does make us worry for her -- that she might, for instance, start screaming at any minute and never stop. A nerve-racking picture of a ruined soul.
Is it worth seeing? Absolutely. You won't learn too much about how Aileen Wournos turned into the person she did. Even the narrative itself is a little confusing at time, so that you can't be sure where Lee and Selby are at given moments. But it's Hollywood professionalism at one of its rare high points. It's made by a mature team for an audience of adults. Refreshing.
I just saw again Monster, followed by Nick Broomfield's gripping documentary on Aileen Wuornos, and what a brilliant film it is. It sort of reminded me of the kind of movies they used to make in the '70s, where the characters were really the center and they weren't trapped by formulas or by the self-indulgency of the director or the actors. The characters aren't judged, but they're shown with their humanity. With empathy. The result is not your usual indie movie that tries to be hip, or a sugar-coated version of this tragic story with an answer for everything and a nice confortable message in the end, but a truly moving and absorbing film that focuses on the people whose story is telling. At the core there's the amazing performance from Charlize Theron, who's deserving of all the praises and the awards she got. Her work is powerful, subtle, moving and layered. It's incredible to watch Broomfield's documentary, after seeing the film. Sometimes it really seems like watching the same person. It's not only that she recreated her mannerism, which she did perfectly, she's also, somehow, got her energy, as a person. She got to the emotional reasons as to why Aileen's mannerism was like that. In short: an extraordinary performance and a powerful film.
I sometimes wonder why more people can't be nice. I wonder why the sins
the father have to plague the lives of his children. Why people rape,
abuse, hurt, and maim. In a perfect world everyone would be happy. In a
perfect world no one would ever want. In a perfect world a women like
Aileen Wurnos would not have been sentenced to die on death row, and in a
real world I wouldn't have to write about a movie like MONSTER. It's a
movie that drips with exceptional performances, and yet leaves your soul
cold to the core.
MONSTER is the tragic true story of a woman who longed for a friend, and nobody came to her aid. It stars Charlize Theron (The Devil's Advocate) as Aileen Wurnos, one of the first women to ever die on death row. Of course the film doesn't begin that way, when we first meet her she's sitting in the rain with a gun contemplating ending it all. You see she's has no future. She has nothing but a past that's not worth repeating, and all she has in the world is in a storage locker. What little money she has, is gained by being a prostitute. But one day in a little bar in Daytona Beach, Florida she meets and falls for a woman that finally makes her happy.
The woman is named Selby (Christina Ricci, The Opposite of Sex), and she's a young lesbian just trying to figure out the world for herself. At first this relationship puts Aileen on cloud nine. She's willing to do anything to provide for the first person that ever loved her.
But one night when Aileen kills a john who gets a little to rough, a series of events take our characters on a one way trip with destiny. Leaving the landscape of these two women's lives are forever changed. If only someone had just been nice to Aileen.
MONSTER is not a happy film. It's one of those movies that leaves you dead at the end. You lose faith in humanity; you lose faith in yourself. I like these kinds of movies, cause they convict me. Here I am a young guy who sometimes gets ticked off at a driver in front of me on the road. For one split moment I have murderous anger when that guy cuts me off. What if I was in Aileen's situation? Would I do the same thing? I would hope not, but hey you never know.
If there is one performance that will tear you up inside this year, it's Theron's. For the entire movie you can hardly believe that this is, in real life, a beautiful women. Theron throws all the glamour out the window, gaining weight and frumping herself up to the point of being ugly. This is a complete 360 and she's so engrossing. She carries the film to heights. A lesser actress might turn in a wonderful performance, but Theron was Aileen. This is some brilliant acting.
I also give Kudos to Bruce Dern . His character has the distinction of being the only person who shows any real compassion for Aileen. While a small role it sticks out because it's the only real bit of bright light in an otherwise dark and gloomy picture.
The screenplay by Patty Jenkins (Who also directed) does a great job of giving Aileen and those around her life. What Aileen did was reprehensible. What she did was evil, and she must pay for that. But it allows for sympathy. Not all evil is dark and black, and not all people who murder are 100% culpable. But yet you reap what you sow no matter what you're past.
MONSTER is a well-made, brilliantly acted film that's not for the weak of heart. It's engaging, engrossing, and realistic. I think I want to rush out and get the silliest comedy I can find right now, because I need something to offset the dark tone of this film. While it get a fine recommendation, I just hope that the next time you feel like treating someone like crap, you'll remember just how tragic the life of Aileen Wurnos turned tragic because nobody reached out.
After just seeing this film, I'm pretty much speechless. This is a tough film to comment on. This is mainly due to the fact that it's a serial killer film where you actually end up feeling sympathy for the killer. Near the end of the film, when it goes completely out of control for Aileen Wuornos, there's no feeling of "justice is done once again"... quite the contrary, actually. It's so moving and disturbing, following this person's life, through the last part of it. In the beginning, we get a fairy tale-like presentation of Aileen's hopes and dreams in her young years. Without warning, we're thrust into the hard reality of her current years, immediately afterward. From there on out, we're in her world, feeling her pain, experiencing her failures. We get to know her as the film goes on, but we feel for her from the very beginning, without even knowing why she is like she is. That says something about the masterful direction and writing of Patty Jenkins that is featured in this film. The plot is great, and it's surprisingly easy to follow the thought process of Aileen... we understand why she kills. The pacing is very good, there are only few scenes that seem to move slow, and I don't think there was really any point where I was bored. The locations is incredibly authentic. Jenkins actually went out of her way to get shooting done at several places where the real Aileen had been, and even cast people who had met her in smaller roles. Cinematography is great. Acting is pretty much flawless; both Theron and Ricci shine in their roles. The movie also has a unpleasant view of prejudice from the 'other side'(the people who become victims to prejudice), and hopefully this will act as a much needed wakeup call for the people who believe in and go by prejudice. What really makes this film have an impact is how dark and real it is. No happy ending, no silver lining... just tough, uncut reality. When you see it, you can't help getting engulfed in this person's world. The raw horror of her life moves you. I can't see anyone, no matter ignorance, beliefs or moral and ethic standpoint coming out after seeing this film and believing that Eileen was the 'bad guy' in this story. It's just not possible. I haven't seen any of the interviews with the real Aileen Wuornos and I didn't follow her case, but I would like to know more about her, find out what she was like to a greater extent than a movie of 1 hour and 45 minutes can tell me. That's what this movie did to me. It made me care for this person, and that says more than anything I can put in this review. You need to see this film, unless you refuse to watch anything that has harsh reality instead of a happy ending. I recommend this to anyone who can take it. This movie will depress most people, but after this one viewing, I consider it required viewing for just about anyone. 8/10
This is the desperate story of a woman whose child-abused background
led her to teenage prostitution and a disgust with herself and
humankind before she reached 30, and then, desperate to keep the
spurious affection and shabby love, however ill-judged and unbalanced,
of an immature, lonely, and rather stupid lesbian, she turns into a
serial killer. Based on the life of Aileen Wournos, Patty Jenkins and
Charlize Theron have achieved not only a film of excellence and
importance, but of a depth and darkness that takes your breath away.
Charlize Theron's brilliant, bravura performance, Christine Ricci's
impressive supporting acting, Patty Jenkins's direction, and the
structure and script, make Monster an impressive film. Despite the
depressing themes, all the more accentuated by sad motel rooms,
low-life bars, and dismal highway nights when Wournos is seeking
clients - and victims - the film is so strong on characterisation and
with a script which rings true at every stage (despite some difficulty
in understanding the mumbled dialogue between the two leads at times),
it leaves a lasting impression of ineffable sadness.
The film works on many levels and the bottom line is a thorough indictment of the dark side of American society. The monster is American society which can produce, through ignorance, prejudice, abusive behaviour, easy gun-license laws, the death penalty, and so on, the kind of people which Aileen and Selby become. They are extreme examples, of course, but the message is clear. And this film does have a message even though it takes pains not to be judgmental. At the centre of the film, when Aileen confesses her first murders to Selby, she says she is okay with the Lord, it is the society that brought her up, the politics and the religion, that made her what she was. If politics and religion justify so many killings, her own killings are justified (as a way of compensating for the rapes, abuse, the inevitable prostitution, leading to more abuse and rape and hatred of men as well as herself). Her logic may be questionable but her point is well made.
I have noticed a recent succession of movies which focus on lesbian killers and the lesbian lead always ends up badly. Is it no longer valid to make film with a heterosexual female aggressor? Do those women have to remain passive, or victims, or at least equal with the men they are teamed with, but the lesbian is still 'the bad guy'. Thelma and Louise were not portrayed as lesbians (although they still had to come to a sticky end because of their crimes), but since then there is a noticeable trend in Hollywood to recognise these lesbian themed movies by giving the leading actresses Oscars - Frances McDormand in Fargo, Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, and now Charlize Theron in Monster. (However, Monster knocks Boys Don't Cry and Fargo into insignificance.)
I wonder about the motives of Hollywood. The film world may pay lip-service to liberal tolerance of female homosexuality by recognising these actress performances, but the overall impression is that lesbians are not good people and I question that audiences will be encouraged to see lesbians as acceptable members of society, given the film examples in front of them.
So, to me, this film was not so much a feminist polemic as a depressing, but gripping, story about alienation and isolation, told in a way which can't help but leave the viewer asking a lot of questions about a society which creates such 'monsters'. Aileen is simply the flip-side of the American dream and, as such, turns the dream extremely sour.
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