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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Monster of a movie, a Monster of a performance.

My lady did an inventory of all our DVDs and Blu Rays and it turns out that I have a lot. I felt a stupid sense of pride, which followed a haunting realisation about how much those damn things have cost me over the years. The wife reckons we have between £2,000 to £3,000 worth of discs. I fear it’s more. In fact, I know it’s more because she didn’t take into account the films I have on Itunes.

But that doesn’t bother me; what actually bugged me was her accusation that the majority of films I own are depressing. And to illustrate her point she pointed to the film Monster.

Now, I'm not here to argue that Monster isn't depressing, but I’m pretty sure that my lady hasn’t ever seen the film - this erked me more. The fact that she blindly used the film as an example of my emo-ness does great discredit to Patty Jenkins’ classic. And I’m not one to use the word classic carelessly – Monster is an incredible film.

Monster is a film based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, the famous female serial killer. There is a documentary out there about this woman, I forget what it's called, but that is also an incredible (and creepy) watch.

The problem with films based on real life people is that they can feel like a Stars in their Eyes performance (I don't know if my friends outside the UK will get this reference - Youtube it); the make-over can be incredible but the film itself can fall flat (I’m looking at you, The Iron Lady). This is far from being the case here and Charlize Theron is beyond incredible in this film. In fact, everyone is great in this film, but it would be a disservice to Theron’s performance to talk about anyone else.

I’ve seen real life footage and documentaries of Wuornos and I am convinced that Theron underwent some Juju to capture her soul during this film. It’s frightening.

It would have been easy to play Wuornos as an absolute nutcase and make the audience feel better, but Theron makes the character far more complicated. There is a gut wrenching desperation to Theron’s Wuornos. Here is a woman that has been used (literally) by everyone that was supposed to care for her and her murders are not an explosion of anger built up inside her, but a desperate way for her not to be used any more. What I'm saying is that by the end of this film, I'm feeling sorry for Wuornos and that is totally down to Theron.

It’s horrible because every time I see this film I think of the homeless people I automatically ignore on the streets, and how I don’t even give a second thought to how difficult their lives must be. How they ended up in the cold, begging for pennies. I find it as natural as breathing, ignoring the very poor and this film makes me ashamed because you realise that hardly anyone was kind to Wuornos. She was ignored and used, mostly for sexual purposes. Barely a hint of kindness came her way and when it did (the John that wanted to reform her) it was too late – she was already a Monster. 

Don't get it twisted, Theron's Wuornos, I'm sure like the former living one, is nuts. But the hint of humanity and vulnerability that Theron laces her with makes this movie truly great.

Incredible performance by Theron.

A lot of credit has to go to Jenkins. Her direction is ruthless in this film. There is no room for sentiment; no lingering too long during scenes. She keeps the film unrelentingly dark and I applaud her for it.

At the heart of this film is a tragic love story between Wuornos and Christina Ricci’s Selby Wall.

This is the pre-Brokeback Mountain gay film – just less romantic. 

Aileen is desperately in love with Wall and will do anything to keep her. I mean who hasn't felt such intense emotions? Wall isn’t as innocent as she first appears in the movie – in fact, she is the true villain of the piece. And the emotional shit she puts Wuornos through in this film is heartbreaking.

Like I said earlier, Aileen is a character that has been used by everyone in her life and when she thinks she has found her soul-mate, she turns out to be just like every other vulture. To this day, I find it hard watching the scene where Walls betrays Aileen. 

Again, you buy into this relationship, not because of Ricci (who is good in her role), but because Theron is outstanding. It’s like watching a friend in a horrible relationship – you tell them that their partner is no good, but they don’t want to listen because they are hopelessly in love.

Outstanding acting by Theron. 


Monster is a magical film that shouldn’t be disregarded by people that haven’t seen it. What Theron does is extraordinary – she just doesn’t play Wuornos, she becomes her. I really can’t praise her enough.

Credit is also due to Jenkins who keeps her film jet black. The film wears its emo heart on its sleeve and it doesn’t shirk from it.

So, I don’t like depressing films (I can’t stand Precious), I love extraordinary films. And Monster is exactly that.