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Based on a true story 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Monster

Monster tells the shocking real-life story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute executed in America last year following her conviction for the murder of at least seven men, including a policeman. Although Wuornos confessed to these murders, she claimed to have killed in self- defence, resisting violent assaults whilst working as a prostitute.

The movie starts with Wuornos (Theron), nearing suicidal despair, wandering into a bar, where she meets Selby Wall (Ricci), a young lesbian sent by her parents to live with an aunt in order to "cure her homosexuality". As the victim of a tragic and abusive upbringing, Wuornos quickly warms to Selby and falls in love, clinging to her like a life preserver. This unlikely couple go on the run, and as Wuornos is unable to find a legitimate job, she continues working as a prostitute in order to sustain her relationship with Selby. However, when one of her clients turns violent, she shoots him in self-defence; the first in her tragic string of killings. In her pathetic and resentful way, she realises that this is the one thing she's talented at: being a serial killer.

Charlize Theron's impersonation performance is as amazing as the physical transformation she undertakes. If you've never seen a picture of Aileen Wuornos, then you will not realise the magnitude of this compliment, but suffice to say that there's quite some difference between the two women, and the film's make-up artists have done a brilliant job to make her look like a carbon-copy. Furthermore, Theron also manages to adopt the same distinctive drawl and mannerisms as Wuornos, and thus thoroughly deserves her Best Actress Oscar award. Christina Ricci offers a good supporting performance, from the naive and vulnerable, to the headstrong and decisive, but it really is Theron's show.

First-time writer-director Patty Jenkins manages to create an unlikely love story between two social misfits. To watch Wuornos lose hope and fall further and further into the vicious circle that she gets herself into, is quite unnerving, especially amidst all of the pleas from Shelby to stop. Although at times violent, Monster is an amazing and moving piece of cinema. If you've not seen it, do so. If you've seen it already, see it again!

Alex Coe

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)