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Customer Review

6 of 6 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
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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Location: Berlin, Germany

Top Reviewer Ranking: 55,973