• James Rutherford

'Monster': Patty Jenkins' Haunting Depiction of Real-Life Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos


Movie poster for the film Monster starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci

”Monster" (2003) is a biographical depiction of Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), a prostitute and serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. The film largely focuses on the burgeoning relationship between Wuornos and young Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), in a role based on Wuornos’ real-life girlfriend Tyria Moore.


As their mutual depedency develops, Wuornos grows increasingly desperate to provide for her young companion who she has stolen away from her aunt and uncle guardians. Wuornos' desperation and her rage against men, brought on by years of both childhood and adult abuse, leads her down a dark path of murder and theft, even as she struggles to shield Selby from the horror of her atrocious crimes.


The overwhelming highlight of the film is Theron’s mesmerizing performance as Wuornos—a role that won her a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004. She’s almost unrecognizable and altogether phenomenal as the volatile and increasingly unstable Wuornos, whose ferocity is interwoven with surprising affection for Selby. This unexpected tenderness lends the film an air of tragic poignancy, and provides a bittersweet portrayal of a severely troubled woman.


Written and directed by Patty Jenkins (who would go on to great success with 2017's "Wonder Woman"), "Monster" is a fascinating recreation of a disturbing yet compelling chapter in the annals of true crime in America. Very much intended for mature audiences—this one will surprise you with it's depth and profound gravitas.

 

View the trailer: