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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable but compelling
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...
Published on 15 Nov. 2006 by C. Leenhouwers

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars O.K Serial Killer Movie!!
I picked this mainly on the basis that I like serial killer movies, however its not a movie which is up there with silence of the lambs which I think is the greatest Serial Killer film ever made, I know that movie is impossible to top, but It just doesn't grab you as much and want you to keep watching, I found it hard to watch to the very end mainly because of sheer...
Published 15 months ago by Mr. Joel S. Greenhalgh


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable but compelling, 15 Nov. 2006
By 
C. Leenhouwers "claireann82" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (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
4.0 out of 5 stars "You'll come back here and we'll go far, far away", 26 Dec. 2009
By 
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (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). However Wuornos's attraction is explicit: Selby would seem to represent the childlike innocence, the dreams, and the naivity that she was never allowed to possess, in short perhaps the childhood she never had as well as the vulnerability that now lay buried under layers of malevolent hatred and fury. "You'll come back here and we'll go far, far away," Wuornos tells her in an attempt to keep their dream alive. But the "far, far away" of her fantasy doesn't seem like a place on earth - rather a place beyond society, beyond civilisation and, presumably most importantly, beyond men.

It's a fascinating film, partly because women are traditionally expected to give life, not take it - which adds a sense of mystery to the horror of extreme female criminality. The American and worldwide public seemed especially fascinated by Wuornos when her crimes became known because, unlike other female serial killers such as Myra Hindley and Rosemary West, she was not operating under the wing of a murderous man. By calling the film "Monster" we are made aware of the social stamp with which Wuornos is branded before Jenkins relativises it a little by lending her a more human voice with which to tell her tale. In the final scene Theron turns to the camera and looks directly at us, apparently in a final plea for charity. In reality Wuornos was defiant, telling the Florida Supreme Court: "I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I'd do it again, too [...] I am so sick of hearing this 'she's crazy' stuff. I've been evaluated so many times. I'm competent, sane, and I'm trying to tell the truth. I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again."

Charlize Theron - who is physically made to resemble Wuornos with unsettling accuracy - was awarded an Oscar for her performance on what would have been Wuornos's 48th birthday.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theron's tour de force, 5 Jan. 2006
By 
Mr. Joe (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (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. In fact, Aileen's real-life mother divorced Leo Dale Pittman a couple months before her daughter's birth and Aileen never met her natural father. Aileen and a brother were subsequently raised by their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. The grandfather drank heavily and was physically abusive. Aileen engaged in pre-marital sex at an early age, and was pregnant at 14. After giving her child up for adoption, she ran away from home to take up hitchhiking and prostitution. While MONSTER doesn't excuse Aileen for her the murders she later committed, it reveals Wuornos for the emotionally and psychologically tortured casualty of life that she was and who, in the end, "volunteered" for the death penalty. In this case, execution may have been a mercy.
MONSTER gives evil a human face, a fact that will undoubtedly cause discomfiture in some critics who believe in a morally black and white world.
MONSTER isn't an easy presentation to watch. As the film unwound and the power of Theron's performance washed over me in waves, I found myself sliding lower and lower into my seat. The rape scene that sets Aileen on her murderous path is vicious. And it doesn't get any easier with the individual killings, especially the last when any vestige of sympathy the audience might have for Wuornos is forfeit.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Therons best role so far, 3 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (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. The film takes certain liberties with the facts in order to raise the dramatic tension (for instance the time line of the murders is compressed, certain facts that Aileen states about her childhood are not contextualised, and the teenage Selby Wall character was in reality the 24 year old Tyria Moore), but so what, it does not detract from the film, nor does it make the overall presentation any less accurate.

Monster is not any easy film to watch. The violence, when it does come is both graphic and sad, the two main characters are destined for nothing but heartache, and Aileen herself, whilst giving evil a human face, is a sad, flawed victim of the society that raised her. This is a film that refuses to be black and white about its portrayal of right and wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thoroughly Brilliant Serial Killer Biopic, 21 Sept. 2007
By 
Thomas Elce (Nottinghamshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
The story of infamous female serial killer Aileen Wournos is a disturbing and shocking one. Far from being an unmotivated sociopath, Wuornos was convincted for murdering several men--she claimed seven--whom she acussed of either raping her or attempting to while she worked as a prostitute. Up until this point her life hadn't been the most picturesque one, with physical, verbal and sexual abuse dominating many periods of her life. She claimed to have been abused by carers, lost her virginity to her own brother, been attacked by clients, used by police officers and pretty much frequently kicked down by society. As is par the course, her conviction came with labels of 'evil' and 'monstrous', something that might well describe the actions she took but that perhaps doesn't necessarily apply to Wuornos as a person. Whatever the case, she achieved notoriety long before her eventual execution and was unashamedly exploited by family members, journalists, prison officers, cops and a number of others. "Monster" may be an example of this, but that doesn't make the Wuornos biopic any less fantastic. Without doubt, this is one of the best serial killer films around.

It is fair to say that "Monster" does it's small share of glossing over with regards to Wuornos' (played by Charlize Theron) horrific story, but for the most part it is as truthful and honest a motion picture ever likely to be made about the serial killer. Directed by Patty Jenkins, "Monster" picks up on Wuornos' story from the moment she met her lesbian girlfriend, 18-year-old Selby Wall (Christina Ricci). A prostitute since her early teens, Aileen meets, in Selby, another fractured woman in her younger partner--Aileen herself is in her thirties when she meets Selby--, who herself is only just coming to terms with her own sexuality, and whose father has effectively shunned her upon coming out of the closet. Aileen has never had someone who truly cared about her before Selby comes along and so clings to her newfound romantic relationship, seeing it as a sign for better things to come. However, more dissapointments lie ahead for Aileen even as her relationship with Selby flourishes, as she comes face-to-face with the fact that one positive doens't equal forthcoming negatives. Eventually she finds herself shooting to death a man when he tries to tie her up and rape her. It is this first killing that tips Aileen over the edge and results in more murders as she struggles to control the urge to get what she sees as revenge against men more than happy to use her for their own sexual gratification.

Writer-director Patty Jenkins has created with "Monster" a staggering and powerful cinematic portrait that surpasses the vast majority of films of it's ilk with an unlikely ease. Whereas other, less assured, filmmakers might have tended towards painting Wuornos as a more cold-hearted individual, Jenkins does a more professional and capable job, caring to look under the notorious killer's tough exterior to the fragile, emotionally shattered person underneath. In no way does Jenkins make her subject out to be a sympathetic person, because Wuornos wasn't. However, Jenkins takes the time to establish what might have pushed Wurnos into the act of murdering multiple clients, convincingly portraying the dysfunctional-but-loving relationship between Wuornos and Wall in the meantime. Her script is poignant and graphic, her direction equally flawless.

In a stunning performance that rightfully brought home an Academy Award for Best Actress, Charlize Theron is an emotional, believable force as Aileen Wuornos. Under false freckles and with a gained weight of thirty pounds for the role, Theron is sensational in every second that she is featured on the screen, which amounts to around 98% of the entire film. Taking on the hugely important supporting role of Selby Wall, Christina Ricci is on a par with Theron, equally layered and transcendent in her difficult part. Ricci captures the naivety and honesty in her smitten character, who continues to allow Aileen to murder men without stepping in or alerting the authorities, out of love for her murderess girlfriend. Beyond Theron and Ricci's the parts and performances are minimal, but so perfect are the two lead actresses that this isn't a problem whatsoever. The one-dimensional supporting turns are all done handily, but the film undoubtedly belongs to Theron and Ricci.

As believable a romantic motion picture that "Monster" is whenever focus is on the partnership between Aileen and Selby, the movie is also a graphically violent thriller whenever attention shifts back on to the crimes Aileen commits. If the movie quickly establishes elements of Aileen's horrible past life, it doesn't neglect to be visceral and shocking whenever she sets sights upon her next victim. The murders themselves are showed in graphic, uncompromising light, and are fittingly bloody for the gritty crime/drama in which they are featured. Squeamish viewers may not fully appreciate such bloodiness, but for anyone capable of stomaching such violence in their cinematic viewing experiences, they blend into proceedings and bring further authenticity to Jenkins factual account. A scene in which she kills a man genuinely trying to help her out is genuinely unsettling in a way that some of the others aren't. Simply put, one finds it somewhat difficult to fully feel sorrow for someone surprised by a bullet when attempting to rape another human being.

"Monster" is harrowing and impactful, raw and unsettling, scary and horrific. If Nick Broomfield's dishonest and exploitative "Aileen: Portrait of a Serial Killer" didn't float your boat, Patty Jenkins' staggering motion picture certainly will. Sure, it doesn't go into extreme detail in some aspects of Wuornos' case, but thid doesn't at all subtract anything from the overall quality of the perfect film in question. In many ways "Monster" is a supreme motion picture, and perhaps qualifies as the best example of brilliant cinema to be found in 2004 or in the present day. "Monster" is an unsettling and strengthy thriller that deserves to be watched.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theron's tour de force, 24 July 2004
By 
Mr. Joe (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Whenever I suggest an acting performance worthy of an Oscar, it's understood that my recommendation is debatable. Not so Charlize Theron's tour de force in MONSTER, which transcends argumentative discussion. It's the performance of this decade, and perhaps any decade you'd care to mention. If she hadn't won the Academy Award for Best Actress, then there's no justice and the Oscars would forever have lost all credibility with me. No other performance by a female actor in 2003 came even close. Not Kidman, not Johansson, not Keaton, or anyone else you'd be tempted to mention. And I would've even sold down the river my personal favorite, Cate Blanchett.
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. In fact, Aileen's real-life mother divorced Leo Dale Pittman a couple months before her daughter's birth and Aileen never met her natural father. Aileen and a brother were subsequently raised by their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. The grandfather drank heavily and was physically abusive. Aileen engaged in pre-marital sex at an early age, and was pregnant at 14. After giving her child up for adoption, she ran away from home to take up hitchhiking and prostitution. While MONSTER doesn't excuse Aileen for her the murders she later committed, it reveals Wuornos for the emotionally and psychologically tortured casualty of life that she was and who, in the end, "volunteered" for the death penalty. In this case, execution may have been a mercy.
MONSTER gives evil a human face, a fact that will undoubtedly cause discomfiture in some critics who believe in a morally black and white world.
MONSTER isn't an easy presentation to watch. As the film unwound and the power of Theron's performance washed over me in waves, I found myself sliding lower and lower into my seat. The rape scene that sets Aileen on her murderous path is vicious. And it doesn't get any easier with the individual killings, especially the last when any vestige of sympathy the audience might have for Wuornos is forfeit. Based solely on the intensity of the subject matter, MONSTER goes up against HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG as arguably the Best Picture of 2003, though neither won the award.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlize Theron's killer performance, 18 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Monster is based on the real life serial killer Aileen Wurnos. Aileen is played by Charlize Theron and she is not recognisable. The make-up Charlize wears and the weight she put on makes you believe that this is the true serial killer, not just an actress. Her performance is amazing showing what drove Aileen to commit murder. Christina Ricci plays Selby Wall, Aileen's lesbian lover and she too, gives a fantastic performance. Monster is the best film I have seen in a long time and at a price of under 3 quid, you would be insane not to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Monster" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Problems With The 'US' Release For UK Buyers...But Available In Europe..., 2 Mar. 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Monster (Blu-ray)
Featuring a stunning turn by Charlize Theron in the title role – a society misfit who latches onto love wherever she can find it (Christine Ricci) – “Monster” is a bit of a mini masterpiece. So it’s surprising to find that such a highly regarded movie isn’t technically available in the 'UK' on the new fangled format. But there are two other versions on BLU RAY…one of which will give problems to UK buyers…

The 2009 American 'First Look' BLU RAY of "Monster" is REGION A LOCKED. Unfortunately this means that it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

But the film is available on a REGION B release in Italy that will play on UK machines (foreign language all over the box).

So check before purchasing the American release to see if your BLU RAY player is able to play REGION A discs...otherwise opt for the Euro version. For a film like this – it’s worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty portrayal by Charlize, 20 April 2013
By 
BobM (South East England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monster [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Charlize Theron is a very beautiful model and actress.
How they managed to get her to look like she did throughout this film is testament to the brilliance of make-up.
Googling the actual killer and the likeness is stunning.
The film is superbly acted throughout. The murders graphic, and I felt sorry for her as she had one hell of a life.
Thoroughly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good acting, but does it really get under the skin?, 30 Nov. 2004
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
Aileen Wuornos became America's most notorious serial killer, demonised by the tabloid press. A female serial killer? There were many to condemn her ... or to profit from her case. Nick Broomfield made two films about Wuornos ("The Selling of a Serial Killer" exposes the way her case was exploited by lawyers, policemen, politicians, and hangers-on, "Aileen, Life and Death of a Serial Killer", follows her as she awaits execution and offers a commentary on her life and crimes).
Writer-director Patty Jenkin's sets out to destroy the image of Wuornos as a 'monster'. She is, we discover, a victim of an abusive childhood, a lonely, lost stray condemned to eke out a loveless living as a prostitute, forever brutalised by the men who use her. Into her life comes a lonely, loveless lesbian, running away from home.
As their relationship flares and Wuornos discovers love for the first time, she has to question her relationship with men. Nobody will give her a job - she's unqualified for anything, is humiliated in her attempts to get off the street. So she is propelled back into prostitution, where things now take an explosive turn as she begins to defend herself with a gun ... then goes on to exact retribution against males for the abuses she has suffered.
But the film plunges straight into the action. You get glimpses of Wuornos' abusive past. You can empathise with her killing for the first time, after she is subjected to a brutal rape by one of her clients ... and anticipates worse to come. You can see the escalation in violence and the hideous logic in which she finds herself trapped, killing to raise money to sustain the only love she's known.
But somehow, the actual narrative doesn't work. In life, Wuornos was violently abused by men, including her close relatives; she was forced to live in the woods like an animal when she was 13. She turned to crime and prostitution to survive. And the Broomfield films reveal her to be deeply psychotic, convinced she was controlled by radio or that Christ would send a spaceship to carry her off to safety. You don't get any of this depth or any sound analysis in the film "Monster".
Charlize Theron is excellent in the lead role. She captures Wuornos' mannerisms and physicality superbly. Christina Ricci is equally good as her lover. Unfortunately, much of the hype about the film concentrated on the makeup and physical changes Theron had to undergo to play the part - obliterating her glamorous image and looks to appear tawdry and cheap. You sense, also, that the violence and mental torment in Wuornos's character have also been sanitised, playing down her confused state to make her actions appear more rational.
Nick Broomfield demonstrates how murder is a gateway to celebrity in the USA - Aileen Wuornos became almost a brand name, and a small industry grew up to market her. But it's all about the selling of image, reducing her history to easily digested, easily understood packages. As a Probation Officer, I've worked with a lot of serious offenders: trying to understand what makes them tick is a complex task. "Monster" doesn't quite achieve this. Theron might get into Wuornos' skin, but the story never fully gets under it. As entertainment, it's a very good movie. As a piece of social analysis, or social realism, or criminological inquiry ... it has severe weaknesses.
The two disc version offers lengthy documentaries on the real Wuornos and the usual features on the making of the film. It slurs slightly into self-congratulation when it might have made a more intensive inquiry into the woman and her judicial murder ... sorry, execution. But it's a good production, overall. If I have reservations about the narrative and the effectiveness of the story in presenting Wuornos to the world, I have no reservations about the acting. It is a tale which will engage and entertain ... but don't forget to ask questions afterwards.
Perhaps the real worth of the movie is that it does inspire you to look for more information and to delve into the case a little deeper - in which case, I'd suggest you begin by looking at the Nick Broomfield films. However, you then start to wonder if you're turning into a voyeur, if you're simply contributing to the cult of notoriety / celebrity?
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