Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Monster 

The Girl and I had a double date on Sunday afternoon to see Monster before the Golden Globes. I'm glad we did, as by the time Charlize Theron won her Best Actress, Drama award The Girl and I were both firmly in her camp. This is one of those movies that you'll never gush "I loved this movie," as it was so incredibly disturbing. I think it's a great movie, I would recommend it to each and every person out there, and I think Charlize Theron deserves to win the Academy Award for which she's been nominated.

Monster is based on the now-executed Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and her transformation from a downtrodden, suicidal prostitute with no human connections to a serial killer who feels entirely justified in her actions, who is clinging desperately to apparently the only person (played by Christina Ricci) who has ever shown her honest affection, her lover Selby Wall. Speaking of transformations, nothing could have prepared me for the complete transformation Charlize Theron makes in this role. The physical changes are significant - she has the appearance of being streetworn, with highly sundamaged skin, more weight, and lifeless hair. But beyond that, she takes on the bearing and carriage appropriate to the part. Theron's Wuornos alternates between entitled and arrogant posturing to terrified and humiliated trembling. She presents someone who is able to present what the character would feel to be a socially appropriate front, and in an instant change it to someone furiously lashing out at the occupants of a world to which she is denied entry. Through it all, Theron allows us into the workings of the character's mind as she navigates Wuornos' self-made minefield.

Theron and Ricci take us through the story of two people in tough circumstances (Ricci's character has recently come out to her religious family, with very bad results), who in an ongoing series of small and large choices find themselves further and further on the outside of a world they each desperately wish to be part of.

The scene that has stuck with me the most strongly is after the second killing. Wuornos is standing in a clearing, smoking a cigarette, and the moonlight illuminates the smoke as it swirls around and obscures her face. It's the exact moment when you realize that she has taken the irreversible step over the line.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:11 PM