Monster (2003)

It is small wonder Charlize Theron won the Oscar for best actress in a leading role for her part in this intensely alarming movie. As Aileen, a prostitute since the age of 13, Theron gives an incredibly convincing performance that reaches well beyond the usual demands a role might make. Even the contrast between her normal appearance and that which she assumes for the sake of this role is amazing. The transformation between the stately beauty Theron possesses and what she effects for it is on the highest order of interpretive ability.

The ramifications of Monster go, too, beyond any police story or horror spectacle of a person declining to pathological and homicidal rage. In showing the background ingredients helping to lead to this “descent” far more emerges in aspect than could be told in less astute manner. And this movie is astute, a soul-wrenching travel into the heart of darkness, and what can lead innocence into it. Opposite Theron, the lovely Christina Ricci plays her younger lover, Selby, yet new to the street world her friend has adopted and for which she’s poorly able to cope. Ironically it is the two finding each other that helps precipitate the string of frenzied killings that come about on the heels of their meeting.

Taken from an actual case history, the film explores this intimacy with license but one with extreme credibility. More than any other reason for this success is the beautiful job Theron does with her role. Director/writer Patty Jenkins, has created scenes that are camera perfect, from which stills are the art of photography at its highest. One, of Aileen shown sitting under an underpass with her gun, another of the same underpass, without the gun. In almost every scene there is a moment of such camera perfect shot. Even the death of an innocent man, on his knees and begging for his life, captures an austerity capable of haunting memory (it certainly does for Aileen.) The accomplished Scott Wilson plays this role with an acumen even rare for him.

Definitely not a movie for children. Much harsh language, harsh sex, though little actual nudity shown, and violence. Highly recommended, but not for the easily depressed. Showcases one of the most deserving Oscar winning performances this reviewer has seen. Can’t say enough about that.


3 thoughts on “Monster (2003)”

  1. Aileen is set off by the incident with the violent rapist, deciding to
    pursue a new line of work. Soon she finds avenues of opportunity are cut off by her lack of experience and, coupled with the new demands of her
    lover, is forced to go back into prostitution just to survive…before
    she’s fully recovered. It is a vast mistake.

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