Thursday, December 11, 2008

Film Review - "Monster" (2003)

Patty Jenkins
Despite what I’ve heard about this, I had little enthusiasm for it. The only reason I saw it was because I got the DVD for free. Now that I’ve seen it, I must say… I would gladly have paid full price for it, if not even more, because this is one of my favorite movies now.
It’s based on a true story. Our main character is a haggard old street whore named Aileen. She meets Selby, a teenaged lesbian who is facing turbulent times after her Christian family disowns her. The two quickly become the best of friends, and over time, it turns into a romance. Despite her every attempt to give up prostitution and get a legitimate career to support herself and Selby, the world keeps shoveling shit in her face because, hey, who cares about druggie hookers? Then, one night, when she’s with a customer, he knocks her unconscious, ties her up and gags her, then beats and rapes her all to hell. As soon as she gets a chance, she promptly whips out her revolver and blows the assailant away. She steals his clothes, his car and his cash, and keeps incognito for a while. She is resistant to tell Selby, but once she explains it to her that it was in self-defense, she understands. So, the two try to stay as hidden as possible for a while… Until they need more money. Aileen goes back to prostitution, and now she has an ever-growing hatred and resentment towards humanity that culminates in another murder and subsequent Scrooge McDucking in the victim’s cash for a while. Aileen’s mental state deteriorates as she eventually starts killing every trick she turns, without even caring about the cash – she’s so disgusted with the world and is taking revenge on it for its fucking her over at every possible point in her life.
Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of Aileen, and she completely and utterly deserved it. You can’t even tell it’s Charlize; her appearance, her mannerisms, and everything else – she is totally into character and never breaks it for a second. She’s intense, very real, and we can sympathize with her despite being revolted by her actions… And Charlize absolutely sells the whole thing. Christina Ricci is great as Selby, and plays her with this youthful naiveté and wide-eyed innocence which both clashes and magnetizes with Aileen’s world-weary cynicism and ‘street wisdom’.
The atmosphere of the film is very grungy and indy-like, and it helps the hopeless attitude of everything. Despite having a great romance, the movie is depressing as all hell, and the ending, abstractly touching as it may be, is just fucking brutal. It’s the emotional equivalent of being anally raped with a carrot for two hours, and then, as the kicker, having said carrot stuffed into your mouth. The most disturbing thing, however, is that her big rant towards the end justifying her actions actually makes sense. So in the end, you have a dark movie that not only toys with your emotions, but also really makes you think about its philosophical implications. Thank God for buy-one-get-one-free…
RATING: 10/10

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to see this one for years, solely because of Theron's amazing makeup job, and now I feel like I finally have the courage and intestinal fortitude to sit down and watch it.

    Does the DVD have any making-of features where they talk about Theron's pretty dang incredible physical transformation for the role? I'd love to see a step-by-step process of how they made her into Aileen Wuornos. She really does look like the real woman.

    I'm reading about Aileen Wuornos right now on, formerly, and it's fascinating and tragic. She just didn't have a good start from the get-go. :( It's always sad whenever I watch "Cops" and there's an old prostitute or drug addict who has never gotten their life straightened out and is destroying themselves on the street. It's just pitiful to watch.