Customer Reviews: Monster [Blu-ray]
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on June 11, 2004
I was a Deputy Sheriff at the time that Aileen Wuornos was killing the men. The case was facinating to me because in the begining we were not looking for a female killer. Needless to say we were shocked when we found out that our search was for 2 women. This case was personal to me because one of the men she killed was a friend of mine. He didn't the pattern after the type of men Aileen Wuornos was killing, but at that point when she killed him it wasnt about sex, but the need of money. I am very please that the movie showed that he was only trying to help her out just as he did many other strangers.
Charlize Theron's performance was excellent,and a carbon copy of Wuornos, the attitude and personality were a match.
I strongly believe that Wuornos had been crying out for help to deaf ears her whole life, all she wanted was someone to care about her. And yet all she ever knew was violence and abuse, so she snapped, and then there was no turning back after she killed the first man who violently raped her. Set in her mind all that any man wanted from her was sex, she saw nothing else good about any man. Very sad, maybe this movie can be a lesson to anyone out there who may know someone like her who still has time to be helped before they snap.
Christina Ricci also deserves to recive high credit for her role in the part of Wuornos lover, who in the end turned states evidence to have Wuornos convited of the murders. I strongly recommend this movie. Just don't let the kids watch it.
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on July 11, 2007
"Monster" delves into the mind of the first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron.) But it does not condone what she did or take sides. Instead, the film describes her life over the nine months after she found love with Selby (Christina Ricci); from 1989 to 1990. I really liked the narration/voiceover that Charlize did (as Aileen.) It lent a little credence to the movie and some humanity to Aileen, as well.

Charlize Theron very rightfully won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos. Charlize completely metamorphosed her entire look which was so eerie and uncanny because it was impossible to tell that she was acting in a movie. She also changed the sound of her voice, sounding exactly like the women she played. Charlize is a true actress and very deserving of the Best Actress nod from the Academy. Christina Ricci was also excellent playing the shy and introverted Selby, and has proven herself to be a very accomplished cinema actress.

The movie follows the tale of harried and hopeless Aileen Wuornos as she tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered and tattered life. When Aileen meets Selby it was almost love at first sight. Selby practically saved her life and for that Aileen was forever in her debt. I think my favorite scene was when they were together in the bed (that first night they met) and Selby asks Aileen if she could touch her face. Aileen seemed so sensitive and gentle.

Besides that horrible rape scene and other depictions of degradation (I really hated that scene with that scumbag cop that picked her up after her job interview), I also found the scenes when Aileen tried to look for work very bitter. No one would give her a chance or listen to her. She had no money, no education, no family; absolutely nothing. All the doors were loudly slammed in her face. Society gladly threw Aileen Wuornos away. She was just another hooker, why did it matter that she wanted to clean up her act? Charlize was especially perfect during these parts. Her look of rage, and total desperation was purely obvious.

Another aspect of this story that I found terribly sad was when Selby turned her back on Aileen. Aileen loved her more than her own life and she finally thought that she had a chance of happiness. Maybe Aileen also thought that she finally found a person that she could honestly trust. Maybe if Aileen never met Selby she would still be alive today?

I really liked the way the movie ended. It wasn't too deep or sad, instead I found it very surreal because it wasn't too weighty. The movie ended the way it started, with Aileen narrating to the viewers in her own sarcastic and comical way.

"Monster" did make me feel sorry for Aileen because she was obviously an incredibly broken person that was never given a fighting chance. Someone please tell me why is Aileen vilified while these horrible men that raped her and sexually abused her aren't? Whoever said it's a man's world sure wasn't kidding.
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VINE VOICEon July 19, 2004
Charlize Theron is brilliant in this film with her portrayal of "serial killer" Aileen Wuornos. Theron not only manages to completely change her looks but her entire persona, she becomes Wuornos, capturing all of the mannerisms and deep bedded anger that Wuornos exhibited during her trial. Theron's acting is fantastic and through her performance many questions are raised, some that will stay with you for awhile.
Christina Ricci should not be ignored in her performance in this film either. She captures naive innocence in her role as Wuornos's girlfriend. Ricci's emotions are raw and she holds her own against Theron's brilliance.
But this film is really more than just the acting; it is a statement about right and wrong and about the justice of our death penalty. I don't think anyone can walk away from this film and not feel that Wuornos might have deserved a different sentence. While I agree she was wrong to kill her victims I have to wonder what any normal woman might do under her circumstances. Rape is almost as brutal as death despite the lack of permanence. After seeing the life Wuornos had to live I became wracked with compassion for a woman with no place to turn. Was she right to kill? No! But at what point is a person a cold blooded murderer and at what point is she crushed by her circumstances. At some point blame needs to rest with the child abusers, rapists and sexual predators that helped to create Wuornos and others likely to come in her wake. This film will really cause you to reflect on where you stand on issues like this.
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Charlize Theron gives a five star+ performance as the executed serial killer Aileen Wuornos, the monster in "Monster." I would have rated the movie the same, except it is just too filled with pain, desperation and hopelessness for me to rank it that high. The script is not particularly strong. We only get a glimpse into the life and mind of this woman, and we never discover what made her kill. Many abused women hate men, but they don't become serial killers. There is also a lot of repetition, as Wuornos goes through her pattern of solicitation, violence and anguish over and over again. Without Ms. Theron's magnificent acting the film would be rather mediocre.
Director Patty Jenkins begins Wuornos' story in 1989-90, just before she was caught and imprisoned. She portrays Aileen more as a victim than as a victimizer. Through an initial monologue and various dialogues the viewer learns of Aileen's very troubled childhood in Michican. Her father, a convicted child-molester, committed suicide. Aileen was raped repeatedly by a family friend, and she began prostituting herself when she was thirteen. Her only job had been as a hooker. I think Ms. Theron portrays Aileen as a woman suffering from serious mental illness. Her moods swing from suicidal depression to euphoric overconfidence. She had delusional periods where she believed that all her dreams would come true and that she was invincible. She is a tough talking lady who drinks too much and barely holds her rage beneath the surface.
It is during this period that she meets Selby (Christina Ricci is superb in this role.), a shy, naive teen, in a bar. Selby is a lesbian who wants to come out of the closet against her family's wishes. She is a misfit, without friends. So is Aileen. At first the two are so thrilled that they like each other - that they are not alone anymore. Their desperate, mutual quest for affection culminates in this doomed relationship. To me the relationship is more about loneliness and emotional dependency than physical attraction. The honeymoon is short-lived, however. Selby had never been on her own before and for some reason, doesn't think to get a job. She expects Aileen to provide for them. She manipulates Aileen into continuing to work as a prostitute, even though she is aware of at least one murder. Jenkins suggests that as long as the money keeps coming in she will ask no questions. Wuornos tries to get work and go straight but has no job skills or experience. She winds up going back on the road as a prostitute again, and then, after a violent episode with a john, her rage takes over and the murders begin.
Charlize Theron does give an extraordinarily powerful performance as the serial killer. It is amazing how she was able to literally transform herself into a woman who looks exactly like the actual Aileen Wuornos, mannerisms and all. This transformation is not just make-up. She speaks like Wuornos, walks like her, with a masculine swagger, captures her intensity, and her eyes often hold a glint of madness.
The film is shot in a gritty style on the highway, streets, bars and motel rooms. The ambiance is pure sleaze, reflecting the true crime drama. Overall, the story is fascinating, as is the point of view. And, as I have said, the performances are simply excellent. Highly recommended!
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VINE VOICEon May 23, 2005
Monster is based on the true story of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a common prostitute that left a string of dead Johns in her wake. Aileen (Lee) is on the verge of taking her own life when she meets up with Selby, a lesbian who is looking for companionship. Selby gets Lee to talk, and they agree to meet again the next night. Lee needs money, so she takes to the streets to make some cash.

Her last John brutally beats and rapes her, and in an act of (what seemed to be) self-defense, Lee shoots him to save her own life. Selby and Lee hit it off and decide to set up house together, each having their own ideal of what 'a real life' should entail. While Lee believes that giving up hooking and finding a real job is the key to her new life, Selby is too dependent to go out and get herself a job, therefore remaining reliant on Lee's income as a prostitute. Life does not stay peachy for the new lovers, and after many heart-breaking rejections from the job market, Lee returns to hooking in order to feed her and Selby.

Whether Lee had simply had enough of prostitution, or whether the last brutal John soured her, or simply the idea that she had gotten away with it once, Lee adds a new twist to her hooking schema; murder.

Monster is not a fast paced story of the police investigation hurdling towards finding a killer, but the horrifically commonplace lives of two women who want more out of life but can't seem to find their way out of the trenches. It didn't strike me as 'what would you do for love' type of story either, simply a deviant's twisted mentality of right and wrong. It is a story of the human inside the animal, even a human as alien as Lee was, and the presentation those animals will make to remain human as long as they can.

Get ready to see the performance of a lifetime from previously uncelebrated actress Charlize Theron. She *should* have won the award for her amazing performance in Monster, never again will you see her as a 'blah' or 'so-so' actress. She immersed herself so deeply into the role that she became almost unrecognizable as the Charlize you have seen before. The talk, the walk, the mannerisms, are all portrayed with a natural flow, you simply will not believe how good she is in this movie.

Special mentions go out to Christina Ricci (Selby) and Bruce Dern (Thomas) for their stellar performances also. Director Patty Jenkins receives a tip from my hat also, for finding the human inside Aileen Wuornos and bringing it to the screen. In the featurette, Patty mentions that Lee's behavior wasn't about strength or weakness, but about damage, and she managed to highlight this in the film.

I'm not usually a big fan of Special Features, but you absolutely MUST watch the featurette, where it shows the work behind the scenes and how they transformed Charlize Theron into Aileen Wuornos. It's not just seeing the make up applied, but watching her mannerisms change as she imbeds herself into the role.

Monster is a superb movie, an emotional killer, which will leave you full of both pity and rage at what becomes of those who society turns their polite cheek away from. I highly recommend Monster as a 'buy' rather than 'rent' DVD. Enjoy!
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on September 1, 2004
I really wish I could give this movie more then 5 stars because it truly deserves 100,"Monster" is possibly the best films ever made. Charlize Theron's performance has the highly interesting Aileen Wuornos is phenomenal! Christina Rucci performance has the native Selby works so well in contrast with Theron's strong and independent character that two have incredibly chemistry. The directing, the story line, acting, and everything else in the movie is remarkable and it all helps to show the pain in Alieen Wournos' lonely life. After trying to leave their horrific pasts behind new friends Alieen and Shelby move away together, but when money gets low, Alieen is forced to go back to prostitute lifestyle. But one night after Alieen is rapped, she kills the man and knows she just can't go on hooking again. But being the only way she can make money, she decides instead of having sexual relations, she'll murder the men and take their money. This sad and true story left me amazed and even forgiving. Please watch this movie, I promise you won't regret it.
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on February 20, 2008
The rage of Aileen Wournos is yanked from the past and and viciously strewn upon the screen. Sweat, blood, tears--they're all shed here in brutal fashion. This harrowing depiction packs a grip like a bull rider's and refuses to let you go.
This is due in large part to Charlize Theron's complete transformation. She encompassses everything about the serial killer--her temper, mindset, hopes, fears, anxiety. Her lack of education, her state of disarray. And above all, her need to be loved.
Wournos unraveling from a desperate prostitute into a psychotic murderer ironically came shortly after meeting her female love interest, played with subtle precision by Christina Ricci. It's easy to overlook her superb performance due to the overbearing presence of Theron. But she is outstanding in this role as a naive, meager young woman who also needs some companionship.
The story progresses with sort of an edgy discomfort. There are moments of humor, shock, disbelief, and pity. There are times you'll be staring at the screen, unsure of how to react. Kinda like when someone tells a joke that you don't really get. The violence can knock you off balance.
I love how the momentum accelerates and doesn't let up. It plunges through the murders like a runaway train. Aileen was a startling head case, ready to derail at any given moment.
Overall, this movie will cause vastly different reactions. Some might conceive it as an anti-death penalty statement. Others might simply sit back and say well, justice was done. I think the director tries to make the viewer see some of the reasons behind the "Monster's" madness. Her actions aren't condoned(with one possible exception), but hopefully this story will provoke a certain degree of empathy. Quite an absorbing account of this true story, with the best female acting tandem that I have ever seen. Highly recommended.
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on July 31, 2004
Though this film is brutally honest about Aileen 'Lee' Wuornos' crimes it does provoke some sympathy for her. Yes, she does kill many people (all men) but when you consider how many men battered her and raped her all through her life, even as a child, it's no surprise she became so psychotic.

And I don't think it's exactly fair that she got the death penalty. Surely it would have been best to help a woman who lived her entire existence in the dregs of society (which is surely to blame for sending her mad) than executing her.

Focusing entirely on Lee instead of the police investigations following her (there is a TV movie from the mid-90s that does exactly this if you're more interested), we see her straggle from thinking about suicide, hooking up with lonely, naive Selby (Christina Ricci), killing in self-defense and finally killing for revenge/money.

Charlize Theron completely vanishes as she brings her take on Lee (her full name is never mentioned in the film) to the screen. She sure deserved her Academy Award and Christina Ricca (who is very cute here) is also very good. However, for a lesbian couple I just didn't see any real feeling between them. It annoyed me how fast the film moved and there are not really many quiet moments for these two characters to bond in any way. Yes, they proclaim their love for each other but I just didn't see it. There was too much shouting and screaming.

There are no surprises in the film, as we all know how it ends anyway. But some of Lee's killings are harsh, compelling and even ironic. The overall effect of the film isn't so long-lasting on me though.

It's shot and lit like a TV movie and Lee's heavy judgment at the end of the film is played down. For a film that is slightly biased to her point of view it's annoying that her unfair trial and life are not exploited just a little bit more for us to gain a little extra insight into the making of a 'monster'.

Keep a lookout for Kane Hodder as an undercover cop near the end.

The DVD is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby/DTS 5.1 sound and some slight extras.
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on August 19, 2015
I understand this was loosely based off of Aileen Wuornos, but I expected a little more accuracy than what was presented in Monster. Theron was absolutely amazing in her portrayal of Wuornos. After watching several interviews of Wuornos I have to say that Theron captured the complexity of Aileen - not just in looks, but in the way she carried herself and mannerisms. Wuornos was by no means hero, but she did have some sympathetic qualities that Theron managed to bring out brilliantly.
I didn't care for the movie because the real story of Wuornos was so incredible (rumors of incest, crooked cops, money deals gone wrong, conspiracy theories, etc), and what was delivered was a story that didn't quite capture the most interesting parts of Aileen's story. Instead viewers had the focus of the tumultuous relationship of Aileen and Tyria or "Selby".
I really wanted to love this movie, but I'm largely disappointed in the story-line. I'm sure others who are familiar with Wuornos's story will find themselves underwhelmed Monster's portrayal of America's first female serial killer.
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VINE VOICEon March 3, 2008
One thing I'd never thought I'd see was Charlize Theron holding an acting Oscar. That isn't meant to be an insult to the actress; it's just to say that based on her filmography I didn't expect her to be handed such an iconic role. The iconic role that I am referring to is of course her brilliant turn as Aileen Wuornos, the hooker turned serial killer, in Patty Jenkins `Monster'.

When you watch Theron in `Monster' you are immediately blown away by the physical transformation she undertook. All her undeniable beauty (she is one of the most spellbinding beauties in Hollywood) is stripped bare of her to expose the ugliness that consumed this woman. Her skin is yellowed and loose; her eyes are small and beady; her hair is thin and coarse; her voice is gruff yet vulnerable; her waist has expanded...but beyond any prosthetics there lies a `performance' for the ages. Charlize Theron brilliantly captured the woman that was Aileen Wuornos. Her mannerisms, her speech, her attitude; everything that she was is projected on the audience with reckless abandon.

`Monster' recounts the events that led up to Wuornos arrestment and first death sentence (she received five more before her execution). We see her lifestyle, most elements forced upon her by her childhood and early adolescence. We see her desperation and apathy, both of which root themselves in her actions. Then she meets Selby (based on Aileen's real life lover Tyra), a young naïve girl who just wants someone to love her. Wuornos is in a way just like Selby. She has never truly been loved or understood by anyone, always being rejected and thrown away so-to-speak and so they immediately form a close bond, but that bond is tested almost as soon as it is formed.

After a brutal attack Wuornos discovers her inner monster. In order to preserve her life and her hope of a future with Selby she murders her attacker in what proves to be the most intense and moving moment in the film (that one scene to me is what sealed Theron's Oscar...heartbreaking). After crossing that line she finds that it's the most awful and grotesque things in life that prove to be the easiest to carry out. Aileen has been degraded and abused since her conception but in the flash of the gun she finds that becoming the monster is so much easier then remaining the victim. Determined to stop hooking altogether she runs off with Selby to start her life, but without an income and under pressure from Selby to `provide' for her she returns to the streets, this time with a new agenda. Aileen has no intentions of giving these men anything more than a bullet.

I had really known nothing about Aileen Wuornos when I first saw `Monster' but since watching this film I've seen two documentaries and read some articles on her. While the film for the most part remains true to Wuornos case there are some Hollywood fragmentations that can alter our perspective of this woman. What is fact is that she was a very tortured woman who in the end snapped under the crushing powers of frustration and heartbreak. She had lost so much, but then again never really had that much to begin with. Her life was one never-ending slide towards pain and suffering and she couldn't take it anymore. She was betrayed by the ones she loved and as the final frames capture her anguish as Selby testifies against her we are brought to the purest of sympathies for this convicted killer.

The film as a whole works in a devastating way, but a lot of this is due to Theron's magnificent performance. Unlike `Boys Don't Cry', I don't feel `Monster' would have worked without Theron. There are moments, especially towards the center of the film, that are almost `soap operaish' and that take away from the steely darkness of the film. Parts move slower than they should and this can take away from overall impact of the film. Once the film starts to spiral towards its climax though it never lets up. The initial murder marks a moment of change not only in Aileen but in the film itself. As we watch her scream and cry and parade around in utter misery and hostile confusion it's as if a switch goes off and the films pace starts to shift.

Jenkins is no Pierce (that is to say Kimberly Pierce, director of `Boys Don't Cry') but she does manage to extract Theron's finest performance ever; and by `ever' I mean `EVER'.

Aside from Theron there are some other well established performances. Christina Ricci (an actress I expect one day to hold an Oscar) turns in a very well constructed turn as Selby, Aileen's love. She can't really hold her own against Theron mostly because Charlize is so absorbing, but her final scenes are devastating and raw; just what this film needed. A group of actors that I think should be singled out are those who portrayed the men who lost their lives to Aileen, especially Marco St. John and Scott Wilson.

`Monster' is not a flawless film but it is a solid three star film that deserves to be seen. Charlize Theron's performance though is so flawless, so undeniably remarkable that she elevates this film to four stars, demanding that we give it a chance. This is not an easy film to watch for it ravages the audience with brutality so repulsive yet so heartbreaking that our emotions are jumbled and confused. Do we feel sympathies for this woman or do we feel anger towards her actions? One thing is for certain, because of `Monster' everyone will know and remember Aileen Wuornos.
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