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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22%
Average: 15%
Pretty Bad: 3%
Total Crap: 11%

5 reviews, 70 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Being in 5,000 movies a year has paid off: Charlize Theron is now great!"
5 stars

Charlize Theron came on the scene in 1996, with small roles in "That Thing You Do!" and "2 Days in the Valley." She has appeared in 17 more films since then. I have reviewed 11 of them. I can recall her performance specifically in almost none of them. I said in my review of "Sweet November" that she employs a "featherweight acting technique (that) makes her characters all seem believable but shallow." That sounds about right.

Her performance in "Monster" would be brilliant anyway, but it's all the more surprising given her track record as a reliable but unimpressive actress. In "Monster," she doesn't just portray Aileen Wuornos, the serial killer/prostitute who murdered seven men in Florida in the '80s; she becomes her. I believe every second of her performance, every jitter, every burst of white-trash belligerence, every desperate act of loneliness and fear. It's one of the most convincing and riveting performances I've ever seen.

The story in "Monster," written and directed by first-timer Patty Jenkins, is true, and it's the sort of lurid stuff that could turn bad easily. Aileen, a part-time whore in the Daytona area, is on the verge of suicide when she stumbles into a bar and meets Selby (Christina Ricci), a girl whose father sent her here from Ohio to save her from a life of lesbianism. (It didn't work; it's a gay bar she's hanging out at.) Aileen is straight, but she doesn't have much use for men anymore other than financially, so she lets the smitten Selby buy her drinks, and they become friends.

A romantic relationship develops, including an erotically charged encounter at a skating rink that hints at Jenkins' directorial ability, and soon the two are making plans to strike out on their own together. Aileen continues to prostitute herself to support them, and it is during a sexual transaction gone awry that she winds up killing a client and making off with his car and money.

Thus begins the nightmarish downward spiral that comprises most of the remainder of the film, and I marvel at Jenkins' restraint in attempting to neither demonize nor excuse Aileen.

Christina Ricci, though not as flashy as Theron, personifies the skillful supporting performance, adding strength to the picture's foundation. Bruce Dern is also notable as a bartender friend of Aileen's.

As I said, though, this is the sort of material that can go bad easily, and Theron's performance single-handedly saves it from becoming a Lifetime TV movie. Her Aileen is so real and vivid that the film remains compelling even when Aileen's actions mystify or horrify us. Charlize Theron was already a prolific actress, but with "Monster," a star is born.

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originally posted: 01/13/04 17:53:04
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell disturbing well acted film 4 stars
3/24/12 Mabel Excellent film with a powerful lead performance. I highly recommend it (for adults only). 5 stars
9/11/11 Captain00Kirk Strong performances in a strong, gritty film. 5 stars
11/17/09 Stephanie Garcia very sad story. 4 stars
10/23/09 Rachel It was an alright movie, but I wouldn't watch it more than once. 3 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 5 stars
4/25/08 beau ricci and theron were no doubt outstanding. made really well 4 stars
12/23/07 what is everyone's problem? Charlize deserved that oscar. it was as though she was another person in that fillm. 4 stars
12/15/07 Erika UNBELIEVABLY GREAT MOVIE! Charlize was AMAZING! 5 stars
1/30/07 David Pollastrini Normally Theron and Ricci would be hot 5 stars
1/09/07 Drew Galletti Besides Theron's ugly acting, there is nothing of note about this movie 1 stars
1/09/07 CJBlalock Scary what women are capable of if they're abused enough. 5 stars
6/14/06 Lisa Great acting. Fantastic make up. Fascinating story. 5 stars
4/11/06 RUDY GOOD STORY 4 stars
1/02/06 cody a great story but the flim didn't keep me interested through, but charlize gives great perf 3 stars
10/01/05 wil j. Ricci played it near perfectly 5 stars
9/09/05 Vince Very interesting performance by Theron. 4 stars
9/03/05 tatum Theron great, but Ricci's character is all wrong 4 stars
8/19/05 ES Theron acted just like Wuornos, but the story is terrible & she's a B blonde actor at best 1 stars
8/03/05 Sean Davis Charlize Theron brings female acting to a new level. Well deserved Oscar. 5 stars
7/06/05 Pinkline Jones Ricci just as outstanding 4 stars
7/03/05 Eddie Good story 4 stars
7/02/05 Indrid Cold Somewhat overrated, but still Theron is fascinating. 4 stars
3/23/05 clinger26 oh god no, oh jesus, jesus christ no.. ugh ugh 1 stars
2/15/05 Mikey This movie is so bad, don't spend your money on it 1 stars
2/05/05 xxplosive Waste of time and money, total crap. 1 stars
1/15/05 Jeff Anderson A great, great film. Charlize Theron deserved her Oscar for her absolute triumph of acting. 5 stars
12/23/04 Nick Boyd Charlize Theron gives an unforgetable performance 5 stars
10/13/04 TheOthersFan depressing 5 stars
10/13/04 Kyle I've no problem with Theron winning the Oscar for this performance. GREAT! 5 stars
7/25/04 lissa it was an awesome move!!! 5 stars
7/21/04 Steve Adams Charlize Theron rocks! 4 stars
7/21/04 April Gupton great performance, but wow was she hard to look at 4 stars
7/20/04 geno vezina reality can be a painful experience to watch and this film packs a wallop. 5 stars
7/18/04 Richard not so good 2 stars
7/18/04 Onyeabo Monago I think Charlize gave a spooky great performance! 4 stars
7/17/04 legend An amazing performance by Charlize Theron as a killer. 5 stars
7/09/04 Melissa McCord Not that good. A little too weird 2 stars
7/08/04 Denise good story but she got the award because she looked like crap 3 stars
6/29/04 Elena Amaro Good movie 5 stars
6/24/04 maryann excellent movie kept me watching deff 5 stars
6/21/04 silver10 this was hard to watch. i felt bad when she shot father time after he saw she had a gun. 4 stars
6/07/04 BooBoo Very Good. Theron deserved her Oscar 5 stars
5/30/04 Blakers a great film I loved it. 5 stars
4/11/04 Alan Liddle Over done 3 stars
3/30/04 Arlene Titshaw I wish charlize theron had her oscar, golden globe, etc all up her ass! 1 stars
3/29/04 Veronica It was one of the best movies I've ever seen. 5 stars
3/22/04 john bale Theron and Ricci brilliant as Thelma and Louise from Hell. Gritty and powerful stuff. 5 stars
3/20/04 Matthew Smith Theron is Outstanding in one of the year's best 5 stars
3/19/04 michelle charlize is so beautiful .. but nicole is going to be a better actress you guys! 5 stars
3/13/04 Cheryl Conway Think, Jenna! One can't eat out what one doesn't have! 1 stars
3/12/04 Jenna Furr CT sweeps Bst Actrss "awards" in ultimate ballbusting role. Eat yur heart out, Ashley Judd! 1 stars
2/27/04 Reini Urban Really an experience. Never saw anyone better than Theron, and I saw a lot. 5 stars
2/26/04 me awesome 5 stars
2/15/04 Maximus Stellar performance from Theron 5 stars
2/06/04 LIAM JACKSON Aileen's 'victims' were evil scum that tried to rape her.she is no monster, shes a hero! 5 stars
2/05/04 Charlize seems to overact, but perhaps the real Aileen was like that. Escargot 3 stars
2/04/04 Wendy Carpenter In spite of itself, reveals that Aileen Wuornos WAS a murderous monster, pure and simple. 2 stars
2/01/04 Bill Teommey Bok Choy nails it. Life dealt the murderer cards that made her ending inevitable. 5 stars
1/31/04 malcolm Theron was brilliant, but an average film overall, it's no 'Boys Don't Cry' 3 stars
1/28/04 Mucki It was alright, although it made me squirm in my seat 3 stars
1/24/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Strong performances from Ms. Theron & Ms. Ricci. Cheers! 5 stars
1/21/04 smartmusician Shows partially Aileen Wurro's life 3 stars
1/20/04 DHite Good. It's impressive when a movie can make a murderer look even slightly sypmathetic 4 stars
1/12/04 Lethal Injection was too good for Aileen Wuornos She should have been made to choke to death on her own shit! 1 stars
1/11/04 Collin Souter Thanks for the criticism, SOCS. Next time, please send an email. 3 stars
1/11/04 Shame on Collin Souter There ARE evil women! Time to call THEM "scumbags", not their victims! 1 stars
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  24-Dec-2003 (R)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005



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