Toronto
2 min

Far from love

And close to death

LESBIAN ROMANCE MEETS COLD-BLOODED RAGE. Monster, starring Charlize Theron in her career-best performance, manages to evoke sympathy for both a killer and her victims. Credit: Xtra files

The latest exploration of serial killer Aileen Wuornos comes to us in the form of a hard-hitting dramatic feature entitled Monster from US director Patty Jenkins. Jenkins, who also wrote the film, digs deep into Wuornos’s story and brings to light the more personal side of a central Florida prostitute executed in 2002 for killing six of her johns. Unlike the tabloid stories that ran rampant in the US media, or the documentaries which focussed on Wuornos’s exploitation and death, Monster is a disturbed love story that chronicles Wuornos’s relationship with Shelby Wall, a woman she met just prior to her first murder.



From their first date and kiss at a roller-skating rink to the day Wall testifies against her former lover at the murder trial, Monster is far from your typical lesbian romance. Mixed in with the sweet soundtrack of sugar and spice, crimson and clover, are very violent killing scenes and the loud rip of gunfire.



Playing the two lovers right down to their stone-washed denim and sleeveless shirts are Charlize Theron as Wuornos and Christina Ricci as Wall. Theron, who has already received the New York film critic’s award for her portrayal and is one of the film’s producers, gives an outstanding performance. A heavy, freckle-faced Theron is unrecognizable and fully embodies Wuornos, capturing her distinct mannerisms, her inner wounded child and the hard-edged killer she becomes.



Ricci is almost too doe-eyed and pretty for the role, but manages a strong performance that suggests Wall’s young fragility as well as her manipulative controlling streak. Overall, the two have good onscreen chemistry and play everything from hot and heavy love scenes to loud painful screaming matches.



This deeply sad film will probably leave you too shaken and disturbed to cry. Jenkins manages an impressive feat, leaving the audience empathetic for the killer and her victims at the same time. Where there has been some debate over what motivated Wuornos’s murders, Jenkins takes a stand: That the first killing was in self-defence and the ones that followed were traumatically triggered but inflicted on innocent men.



Exploring the complexities of love and the pathology behind violence, the film is very thought provoking. But Monster is worth seeing for Theron’s performance alone, which is undoubtedly the best of her career. Following the hype and publicity that the Wuornos case received, Monster tells the untold tale of two women and the role their relationship played in the killings.



A film that should not be seen alone or if you have a weak constitution, Monster asks a lot of questions, depicting very well Wuornos’s humanity, from her child-like optimism to her cold-blooded rage.



Monster is now playing at the Cumberland (159 Cumberland St); call (416) 646-0444.