Charlize Theron is really hot. That fact alone is pretty much enough to get her roles in Hollywood. In fact, when a man or woman is gorgeous, doors in Hollywood automatically open. All one needs is the ability not to suck completely, and they can keep getting jobs. It's sad, but true. Capable actors that may not look as good have a harder time getting jobs, or will be relegated to supporting roles. The smart thing for Theron to do is somehow prove to everybody that there is a brain behind all the good looks. The only real way to do this is to hide her beauty, so that everybody can focus on her performance. For the first part of Monster, it's distracting looking at Theron (The Italian Job, Waking Up in Reno), but she soon disappears completely into the role of Aileen Wuornos. For the rest of the film, she is riveting.

So what's the verdict? Theron can act the hell out of a role. This is a huge stretch for her, since she's never really tried to tackle something this different or difficult. Usually, her roles play on her looks, and do not require her to do much. For Monster, she physically gained around thirty pounds, wore prosthetic teeth, and had globs of makeup applied to her face to give her a grizzled, haggard look. Theron finishes it off by an amazing transformation of character. Her Aileen walks and talks differently that Theron ever has. She seems to swagger into a room, hips first, arms akimbo and chin held high. Combined with a lower voice, Aileen appears tough, masculine, and trailer trash-like. The grace of Theron, ex-model and ballerina, disappears into the highly troubled Wuornos.

Aileen Wuornos was executed in Florida in 1992 for the murder of six men. She was a hooker working in Florida and killed her johns. Writer/director Patty Jenkins (Velocity Rules, Just Drive) portrays Aileen as a survivor or a horrifying childhood, full of abuse and abandonment. She has been hooking for years, and changes only when she meets Selby Wall (Christina Ricci, Anything Else, Pumpkin) in a gay bar. Selby is a lesbian, trying to run from her conservative Christian parents. Aileen is not gay, but the friendship and unconditional love and affection that Selby provides is unlike anything she has ever experienced before. She begins a relationship with Selby, and the two soon realize that they are in need of money. Selby, who initially encouraged Aileen to quit prostitution, coaxes her back in, and this is when Aileen begins murdering men.

Selby is also an interesting character. It's not clear if she was consciously using Aileen for money, but what is clear is that she conveniently ignored the fact that Aileen was killing people. Aileen never flat-out told her, but would come back to their home with different cars, which they would soon ditch. Aileen continues on this downward spiral because she is afraid to lose Selby. To her, Selby represents the family and stability she never had growing up. In a sad sort of sense, the themes and actions as Jenkins portrays them are nothing too new, except for the fact that a woman is committing them. Monster is a pretty conventional tragedy, powerful because of an insistent score by BT (random fact: saying the letters "B" and "T" together sounds like the Chinese word for snot) and Theron's performance.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated R for strong violence and sexual content, and for pervasive language.

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