Before you sit down to watch Monster you have to ask yourself the question, why do you watch movies? Do you do it for pleasure? A bit of light-hearted relief, a good laugh, a gentle tear or two, thrills and spills, heart-rending drama. The truth of the matter of course is that we watch different movies when we are in a different frame of mind. Well before you try to endure, and I chose my words carefully here, director/writer Patty Jenkins' superb drama have yourself a stiff drink, in fact have two or three.
Based of the events surrounding the life of Daytona prostitute Eileen Wournos, Monster takes you gently by the throat and drags you through the mind and motivations of a serial killer. Together with performances of incredible stature by Oscar winner Charlize Theron as Eileen and the woefully overlooked Christina Ricci as her lesbian lover Selby, director Jenkins tells a story that weaves a delicate pathway from tragic docudrama to a passionate love story to the graphic horror that the title suggests. She does it with a self-assured confidence and yet manages to turn the camera into a window on the soul of Eileen Wournos. The film successfully attempts to avoid passing judgement or taking sides, it does not preach, it tells the story plain and simple, and allows the viewer to decide for themselves the rights and wrongs, both of Eileen and of a society that could allow the creation of such a creature. If Eileen is the monster then society is most certainly Dr Frankenstien.
We start our voyeuristic view of Eileen as she sits in the pouring rain with a loaded gun and ready to put a bullet in her brain to end a life that started full of dreams, but rapidly became nightmares. She pauses for a moment, she has $5 in her pocket as a result of a sexual favour and decides if she doesn't spend it before she dies, it is like giving it away for free. She makes for a local bar for one last drink and meets Selby, a young woman testing her sexual boundaries, and before long Eileen finds with a woman something she has never had with a man...love. Thus begins a relationship that is a disturbing cross between Romeo and Juliet and Bonnie and Clyde.
Miss Theron has garnered a slew of nominations and awards for her outstanding portrayal of Wournos including a best actress award at the Oscars, and there is no doubt in my mind this was well deserved. This is not just some Hollywood beauty that “uglied up” for a shot at an Oscar. Her physical transformation is remarkable but her performance nails the arrogance and self-assured posturing of a woman used to taking care of business, and taking care of herself. Her vulnerability during her interactions with Selby is incredibly touching, and her struggle with the last vestiges of her conscience as her “johns” meet their ends brought the room to enrapt silence. This was a defining role for Miss Theron, and more will be expected from her than the turgid [b]Reindeer Games[/b] of old.