ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Jenkins & Theron: a monstrous achievement
By Kelly Marcella
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci
Written and Directed by: Patti Jenkins
Critics and movie goers alike have given overflowing praise to Monster, and
with good reason: this film succeeds in delivering the creepy and disturbing
account of one of America’s only female serial killers.
Detailing the true story of prostitute Aileen “Lee” Wuornos, Monster
reveals the underscoring attitudes and causes that resulted in the killing
of six Florida men, including one police officer. Though hailed as a “monster,” Jenkins’ powerful
characterization of Wuornos reveals the harsh realities of a life without love,
as well as the effects that horrible acts such as rape and assault have on
a shattered personality.
In one of the most pivotal performances on film, Theron is stunning as the
film’s title character. Her transformation from beautiful Hollywood goddess
to street-worn prostitute is so convincing it’s difficult to remember
who you’re watching.
As Wuornos, Theron delivers an impeccable performance, portraying the effects
of hardships on a broken woman. She manages to capture the drive in the character
when she finally finds love in Selby Wall (Ricci), without once removing or
allowing the audience to forget her devastating and inescapable past from which
she cannot escape. Theron’s searing and emotional performance makes her
Golden Globe victory and Oscar nomination well-deserved.
As Wall, Wuornos’s newfound lover, Ricci delivers a strong supporting
performance that enforces director Jenkins’s aim to humanize Wuornos’s
story. Ricci’s character is the sole source of love in Wuornos’s
life and she expertly crafts her character to reveal the effects she has on
her prostitute friend. Though Wall herself is a lesbian, the relationship between
these two characters comes off as much more complex; Wall is attempting to
escape her family and Wuornos has, for once, found someone who hasn’t
judged or thought ill of her.
As the writer and director, Jenkins scripted and filmed a mesmerizing portrayal
of Wuornos’ life. The visual presentation of the film reflected the nature
of the characters; the cinematic features (or lack thereof) strongly emphasized
the down-and-out nature of the film. The story Jenkins tells through her characters
and film style is not simply one of murder, but of emotion, desire and tragedy
that leaves the audience feeling incredibly disturbed, overwhelmed and even
speechless at the close of the film.
Monster tells a story often forgotten in the world of sensational and headline-centred
media. The film focuses on revealing Wuornos’ tragedy, one that has been
neglected almost entirely up to this point and of which most people are unaware.
While society may portray Wuornos as a monster, Jenkins’ film reminds
the audience how “monsters” such as these are victims of circumstance
and created by society.