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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
WHERE DO WE GO NEXT: Selby (Christina Ricci, left) and Aileen (Charlize Theron) huddle together trying to determine what their next move will be.end caption.


Charlize Theron Transforms Into "Monster" for an Oscar Quality Performance

Last year, Nicole Kidman (The Hours) was lavished with critical acclaim for making herself over into the celebrated author Virginia Woolf with little more than a prosthetic nose and an assortment of chapeaus. Since that transformation was deemed Oscar worthy, then the Academy may as well name Charlize Theron Best Actress now for her performance as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Theron completely disappears into her character and I defy you to find any trace of the attractive model, turned actress, who is usually cast in roles which take advantage of her looks. Surrendering both body and soul to the demands of a most-unflattering role, the unrecognizable Theron added 30 pounds and did her best to depict her character as accurately as possible. The real life monster this movie is based on was America's first female serial killer, a Florida truck stop prostitute who took to murdering her clients during a 1980s killing spree. Crazy-eyed, crude, and profane, Wuornos certainly wasn't the sort of girl you took home to mother.

What makes Monster fascinating is writer/director Patty Jenkins' (Velocity Rules) decision to imbue such an ostensibly unforgivable antagonist with a sensitive side, redeeming qualities, and a rationale for her anti-social behavior. The film is narrated from the killer's point-of-view by the South Africa born Theron. She adopts a convincing, trailer trash accent to explain her character's internally reasoned logic for her subsequent felonious behavior.

We learn that Wuornos was abandoned by her mother, raped, and impregnated at the age of 13 by a friend of her father, and ended up homeless and surviving by her wits soon after surrendering her baby for adoption. This horrifying childhood, which undoubtedly left her traumatized, led to a life as a streetwalker where she was frequently raped, beaten, and cheated by her Johns.

So, by the time the ugliness finally starts to unfold, the audience has been manipulated to feel such sympathy for Aileen, that it's almost primed to forgive the initial indiscretion. Still, murder is murder, and it soon gets harder and harder to chalk up the increasingly sordid scenarios to an abused childhood.

Though Monster is essentially a Charlize Theron vehicle, a couple of other performances are noteworthy. Christina Ricci, who did a decent job just last fall in Woody Allen's Anything Else, does an even better one here as Selby, the lesbian that the straight, but man-hating, Aileen considers going gay for. Bruce Dern, who was nominated for an Oscar for Coming Home, is memorable here in a minor role as the monster's sole male friend and confidant.

A chilling aside worthy of note: When she was 15 Theron's abusive, alcoholic father was shot and killed, in self defense by her mother, in front of her. Perhaps Charlize did such a phenomenal job portraying someone seemingly indefensible because of the opportunity it simultaneously afforded her to exorcise her own demons.

Excellent (4 stars ). Rated R for gruesome violence, graphic sexuality, pervasive profanity, and female frontal nudity.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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