Sunday, October 2, 2011

#422. Monster (2003)

Directed By: Patty Jenkins

Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern

Tag line: "Based on a true story"

Trivia:  Charlize Theron gained 30 pounds for her role in the film

Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) is a homeless prostitute working the highways of Florida. One night in a bar, she meets Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), and before long, the two have fallen deeply in love. Now with someone to care for, Aileen spends more time on the streets, hoping to bring in enough money so that she and Selby can have a good life together. But when one particular ‘client’ gets out of hand, she fights back, killing him, then stealing both his wallet and car. It's at that moment Aileen Wuernos realizes murder pays more than prostitution, kicking off a spree that, before it’s over, will result in the deaths of seven men. 

Charlize Theron completely immerses herself in the role of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuernos, and her transformation is beyond amazing. It’s more than the fact she assumes Wuernos' appearance (Theron, an undeniably beautiful woman who's worked as a model since the age of 16, gained 30 pounds to play this part, and appears unkempt throughout, with matted hair and shabby clothes). It’s the very attitude she conveys, the way she walks, and the manner in which she takes control of every situation. When we first meet Wuernos, she’s just returned from having spent the day out on the highway, and is seriously contemplating suicide. Before ending it all, she decides to buy herself one last beer, and walks into what happens to be a gay bar. It's here that she meets Selby. At first, Aileen is very direct, telling Selby in no uncertain terms that she’s not interested in a gay relationship. But after the two spend the night talking, Wuernos senses a connection with this girl, whose life is every bit as screwed up as hers. “I was flexible” she tells us in her dual role as the story’s narrator, “I mean, everyone’s gotta have faith in something, and all I had left was love. I was getting pretty sure I was never gonna love a man again, so I was gonna do it”. Having walked into that bar intent on dying, Aileen Wuernos instead found a reason to live, and was going to do whatever was necessary to keep that love alive, even if it meant killing for it. 

So impressive was Theron’s performance that the actress walked off with sixteen separate awards for her portrayal, including the 2004 Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama, and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. If you really want to be blown away, I recommend you first watch a pair of documentaries directed by Nick Broomfield, in which he conducts a series of interviews with the real Aileen Wuornos. In 1992’s Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer and 2003’s Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, we get a first-hand glimpse of the woman's mannerisms, her speech patterns, even the occasional slips into her own bizarre reality. After these two films, check out Theron's interpretation in Monster; you’ll swear you were watching the same person. It’s more than’s damn spooky.


YourPaleBlueDot said...

One of the biggest transformations I've seen and not just because she's pretty to begin with.

Dave B. said...

Thanks for stopping by!

It was an amazing performance, and had as much to do with mannerisms as appearance. I'd seen the documentary by Nick Broomfield prior to this film, and I couldn't believe the level of detail she brought to her interpretation.

Tommy Ross said...

Flat out one of the greatest performances by an actor EVER! EVER!