Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlize Theron Is Remarkable as Killer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlize Theron Is Remarkable as Killer

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

Much of the talk about Monster has been about Charlize Theron's transformation into Aileen Wuornos, the serial killer executed in 2002 after 12 years on Florida's Death Row.

It's a performance worth talking about. Theron -- one of the more beautiful actresses in movies, which is saying something -- is absolutely unrecognizable here, with battered skin, yellowed dentures, dark contacts. She's hulking -- she packed 30 pounds on her close to 6-foot frame -- and, wearing tattered clothing and particularly hideous boots, stalks the screen like Frankenstein's monster.

She drawls, cusses, explodes with anger, gets zombie-drunk.

Yet her Aileen Wuornos is lost in society, only catching attention when she launches into a rage or sticks her thumb out on the side of the highway, holding out the promise of quick and sordid sex for a few bucks.

In one scene, she tries to go straight and embarks on a series of humiliating job interviews. "I've worked with people all my life," she says. "I'm real good with people."

It's painful and pathetic to watch, which is the point of writer-director Patty Jenkins' remarkable film. It doesn't condone Wuornos' acts, but it does try to humanize the murderer, to show that there was a real person behind the headlines.

At that, it works.

Monster tells the story only from Wuornos's view. Theron narrates, filling in only a little back story about her character's sorry, tragic life, filled with sexual abuse and a career as a truck-stop prostitute that began at 13.

"I always wanted to be in the movies," she says. "I had a lot of dreams and I guess you could call me a real romantic."

As we hear that, she's sitting under a highway overpass near Daytona, contemplating suicide. Instead, she decides to spend her last $5 and wanders into a gay bar, where she meets young Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), a lesbian from Ohio who's been sent to Florida by her churchgoing father, with the idea that it will straighten her out. …

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