Monster

Recommended with Extreme Caution. This movie is on par with Se7en, one of the most powerful movies about the nature of depravity. Charlize Theron WILL win the Oscar this year for her acting in this film. There is nothing else even close in any other movie. She is absolutely brilliant in her portrayal of white trash Lesbian prostitute serial killer Aileen Wournos. Every move, every word, every gesture and look is superbly acted by Charlize. This is based on the true story of her killing spree back in the 80s, and her relationship with fellow traveler/”lover” Tyria Moore (In the movie, Selby Wall, played by Christina Ricci). It is a brilliantly written script that captures Aileen’s decline into murder from her abuse as a child and from the destructive world of prostitution where women are not merely dehumanized through objectification but through violent treatment. And writer/director Patty Jenkins carries us through the process with incredibly written voice-over narration by Aileen throughout the film. I do not buy the modernist argument that environment creates us, but I do acknowledge that it certainly influences us, has a major hand in shaping us, depending on our personal response, which is the ultimate category of responsibility. And this film certainly has a pretty good balance in showing the effect of our abusive society on women without negating Aileen’s personal responsibility. It theorizes that Aileen had a fairy tale fantasy of being loved by everyone and becoming a star some day that drove her to do what she did, even from her early days where she would pull up her dress for the boys to see in order to get a few dollars. The film then chronicles her real world experience that crumbles that fantasy, while she holds onto it in utter denial. It paints her picture as a human being turned into a monster, which is only fair because this is basically true, even considering the fact that we are born with depraved natures. She is portrayed as a heterosexual who is driven into lesbianism because of the male abuse of her as a prostitute, which again, is fair enough, though not universal, and I don’t doubt it’s what really happened. But even though there is a female sympathetic understanding of Aileen, they do not seem to fall into the all-too-typical Hollywood agenda of denying Aileen’s personal evil or responsibility. They don’t capitulate to propoganda, and because of this, present a pretty even-handed drama. And that is the power of drama. If done well, it can be one of the most powerful forms of argumentation for a viewpoint. There is no such thing as a neutral drama. All drama is crafted by the storyteller to prove a particular worldview or viewpoint and this film is no exception. The filmmaker no doubt used quite a bit of artistic license to make changes to fit her deliberate theme. But to tell the story in such a way as to ring true to the human condition and to the spirit of the persons involved is the goal. Jenkins’s interpretation of Wournos is clearly an interpretation but it is done very persuasively. The scenes of prostitution with the “johns” is so poignantly portrayed as pathetic that one can only be repulsed by it all. This is not titillating stuff, it is depiction of depravity the way it ought to be, as despicable, not desirable. Very much the way the Bible depicts evil. It shows Aileen’s “first kill” as an abusive killer himself who was going to kill Aileen and cut her up into pieces with a hacksaw. This is an obvious appeal to justification and sympathy and I doubt was the fact of the case, but it is certainly within the parameters of that world. But Aileen is not merely depicted as defending herself in every case. She becomes addicted to the killing and ends up even killing innocent men who are trying to help her as well. And she is also portrayed as sometimes NOT killing a man because of his innocence. By the end of the film, Aileen is caught and her companion confesses and is used by the FBI to trap Aileen into confessing to some of the killings over the phone. Aileen recognizes this with her street smarts, and in an act of sacrificial love, accepts complete and total blame for all the killings, in order to save her “lover.” Of course, the film portrayed Selby as completely innocent of any killings, but certainly a knowing accomplice. I think the title then is intended to be ironic. The film shows Aileen as a human being driven by love, albeit a confused love, who is made into a “monster” by a loveless cruel world. But I think it also fairly displays Aileen’s own rebellious inability to face reality in favor of her fantasy. So I think there is sympathy without negating responsibility. Excellent, powerful, persuasive drama. By the time Aileen is carried away to her execution, she has given up all her fantasy and has embraced the nihilistic conclusion that what they tell you in life, “All you need is love. Faith will move mountains, everything happens for a reason. [Laughs] Well, they gotta tell you something.” The transformation is complete. A true warning for our postmodern generation that ignoring the real evil in this world will crush you in its grasp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.