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Monster 2003

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(113) IMDb 7.3/10
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Charlize Theron won an Oscar at the 2003 Academy Awards for her portrayal of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in this gritty, hard-hitting drama by first-time writer/director Patty Jenkins. After a horrifically abusive childhood in Michigan, Aileen, known as 'Lee' (Charlize Theron) is working as a prostitute on the highways of Florida, with truck-drivers as her main clientele. Just as she is nearing suicidal despair she meets Selby (Christina Ricci) a young woman sent to live with an aunt to 'cure' her of her homosexuality. The two quickly fall into an intense and dysfunctional relationship, and Lee continues to work the streets to support Selby, who has become her lifeline. When one of her customers turns violent, Lee ends up shooting him in self-defence, and her string of killings begins. Wuornos was finally convicted of killing six men, though she claimed to have been acting in self-defence, and was executed in Florida in 2003.

Starring:
Scott Wilson, Annie Corley
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 44 minutes
Starring Scott Wilson, Annie Corley, Lee Tergesen, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern
Director Patty Jenkins
Genres Crime, Drama
Studio METRODOME
Rental release 30 July 2004
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Leenhouwers on 15 Nov. 2006
Format: DVD
I first found out something about Aileen Wuornos when watching the documentary by Nick Broomfield. I found the documentary disturbing as, in my opinion, Aileen didn't appear to be in her right mind when she was executed and I was also disturbed by her life story. When 'Monster' came out with Charlize Theron in the lead role I was concerned that this would be yet another means of making the most out of Aileen's story. However, Theron is absolutely superb as Aileen and anyone who'd watched anything of Aileen herself would realise that the similarity is haunting. Charlize is incredibly beautiful but somehow manages to consume the character she portrays.

I liked the film but at times I was disturbed by it which is to be expected when you consider the subject manner. When Aileen is raped it was a truly graphic and horrifying scene and I found myself looking away and wanting it to end which I can only assume is what Aileen felt when she took the drastic move of murdering her attacker. Although I know it's common place to talk about serial killers as 'scum of the earth', and 'monsters' I have to admit that I began to like Aileen in the film for her naivety and honesty. You get the impression that she killed for love however wrong this choice was. I also like Christina Ricci who played Aileen's lover. Watch it for a brutal look at the life of one person whose life had absolutely nothing good in it and ended in the way that you'd expect. BADLY.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By cathy earnshaw on 26 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD
I won't summarise the plot (based on the true story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos (1956-2002), who was executed for her crimes in October 2002) since others have already done that here.

I avoided watching this film for a long time, not wanting to be depressed by the seemingly unremittingly dark and violent story that looked out from the cover. When I finally got around to it, I found the film so gripping. It was also surprisingly sympathetic to the perpetrator (we don't get much time to feel sympathy for the victims). Director Patty Jenkins adds details to Wuornos's story - for example, she never met her father who was doing time for raping and murdering an eight-year old boy when she was born, but Jenkins has Theron state in a teary scene that she was abused by him - presumably to trigger or strengthen the viewer's pity and provide a deeper psychological motive for the seven killings she commits. This, alongside further brutal treatment by men in her childhood and teenage years - being raped, becoming a prostitute and giving up an unwanted baby for adoption in her early teens - is seen as the wellspring for her extreme misandry which culminates in her brutal killings of men and a last ditch attempt to find love with a person of her own sex. The motivation of Selby (in real life called Tyria Moore - a hotel maid she met in a Daytona gay bar) is probably too roughly sketched; it is difficult to believe that she was sufficiently delusionally naive to have turned a blind eye to Wuornos's escalating violence (Selby is also portrayed as younger than Moore was at that time).
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Jan. 2006
Format: DVD
Charlize Theron's tour de force in MONSTER is the performance of this decade, and perhaps any decade you'd care to mention.
In January 1991, aging prostitute Aileen Wuornos was arrested in Florida. She was suspected of killing seven men since 1989, leaving their bullet-riddled bodies near highways, and stealing their cars and cash. In January 1992, Wuornos was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, mostly on the evidence of her own confessions and the testimony of her lesbian lover during the killing spree, Tyria Moore. In October 2002, the state took her life. MONSTER is Aileen's story.
Even a cursory reading of the Wuornos tragedy on the Web will indicate the challenge of Charlize's incredibly taxing role. It's not just the make-up (shaved eyebrows, false teeth), body alteration (thirty pounds added weight), and costumes that the actress put on for the role. It's the walk, talk, nervous mannerisms and body language. Even aura, if you believe in such. Theron is unrecognizable as herself. The transformation is apocalyptically stunning.
The film does, of course, take liberties. Tyria Moore, 24-years old when she met Wuornos in 1986, becomes "Selby" (Christina Ricci), who's about 18 in the script. The screenplay inferred to me a time span of perhaps several months for the Aileen-Selby relationship, and that the first killing occurred about when the two first met. In fact, Aileen and Tyria spent four years together, and the first murder was committed only towards the end. In any case, Ricci deserves consideration for an Oscar in a supporting role as the troubled, naive, and clueless Selby totally out of her depth.
At one point, Theron's Aileen states that she was raped by her father's friends, and that he subsequently beat her for it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Rwj Nixon on 3 Dec. 2006
Format: DVD
I can't imagine that were would be an awful lot of people who would have heard the name Aileen Wournos before, but watch this film once and you will never forget it. Based on the infamous "first female serial killer" case, it takes as its centre the down on her luck former prostitute who was sentenced to death for the murder of 6 men between 1989 and 1990.

Picking up the story of Aileen as she is at one of her lowest points, hitching across the country and turning tricks in order to survive, the film gives Charlize Theron the role of a lifetime as the dangerous yet surprisingly sympathetic main character. Cast against type (rather like Tom Cruise in Born On The Fourth Of July), Theron is virtually unrecognizable under heavy makeup, extra weight and prosthetic teeth as she virtually inhabits the role of Wournos, turning in a performance that must rank as one of the finest in modern cinema.

Wournos abandons her lifestyle after she meets Selby Wall, a teenage lesbian runaway played with a wide eyed innocence by Christina Ricci, and although Wournos insists she is not gay, the two quickly fall in love. Determined to do things right for Selby, Aileen attempts to get a regular job, but after a string of humiliating failures, she returns to her former job, where she kills her first victim in self defence after her beats, rapes and is about to kill her. From there, it is an easy step for Aileen to continue killing her "Johns", taking their money and their cars as she attempts to give Selby the lifestyle that she so desperately craves.

This is in no way, shape or form a happy uplifting film. Aileen is as much a victim as any of the men she kills, but the film does not attempt to excuse her actions, rather to rationalise and explain them.
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