Monster is a 2003 movie written and directed by Patty Jenkins, now very famous for being the director of Wonder Woman (2017). Monster is his first feature film and stars an unrecognizable Charlize Theron with about fifteen kilos more than usual, shaved eyebrows, and a series of large, crooked, and yellow teeth. What is Monster about?
Monster is based on the true story of Aileen Wournos, a serial killer who killed seven men between 1989 and 1990 before being arrested and sentenced to death (she died in 2002). As far as I could find out, while Theron’s character is quite similar to the real Aileen, the director/screenwriter took some liberty with the character of her co-star Christina Ricci, Aileen’s partner.
But this is not a simple movie with a monster killing one by one her victims! The film is a journey into the life and psyche of Aileen Wournos: abused when she was a child, she began to prostitute herself at the age of 11, at the age of 14 she had a son who was placed for adoption… in short, a terrible story. And the world seen through Aileen’s eyes is not the world we know: it’s the poorest and most degraded side of the United States, full of people with dubious morality (maybe the best person of the lot is Aileen’s friend who works as a bartender?), where physical and psychological violence is not unusual.
So, is Aileen a monster? Or is she only the product of a monstruos society? And is her girlfriend, who knows what Aileen does in order to make money, a monster? Or is she another victim, this time of an ultra-religious family which does not accept her homosexuality? Then the monster is society itself! Ok, maybe it’s not the most original take-home message, but the movie conveys it really well.
And the movie also gives us a great Charlize Theron. I only saw her in the marvelous Mad Max: Fury road (2015), and she was good, and she is even better here with a much tougher role. Charlize manages to portray effectively a tormented woman looking for an escape but victim of the terrible circumstances in which she grew up and lives in.
Monster is a really good movie. Well directed, well acted, frightening because it is frightening to witness how society can affect a person (in this sense the first scene is at the same time perfect and tragic, with the adult Aileen commenting a video of herself as a young kid full of dreams that never materialized). Ciao!