Written and directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci
Aileen Wuornos was famously tagged “America’s first female serial killer” when she murdered several men in Florida from 1989 to 1990. Aileen lived a torturous life of abuse and abandonment from a very early age from family, friends, and strangers. Monster is not an antihero redemption flick by any means, but it gives a lot of incite into a person's life who had so much hate thrown at her, that she finally threw it right back.
Jenkins knew when writing and directing that there was no making Wuornos a sympathetic character - she had killed people and ruined lives. Someone who had to rely on themselves for so long like Aileen did meant a certain level of detachment and self-preservation that Jenkins was aware. The voice over “was an incredible tool, and it really served the juxtaposition of how she would compartmentalize things in her mind.” (+)
Charlize Theron transformed into Aileen Wuornos. It wasn't just the prosthetic teeth or 80s fashion - Theron perfected the large gestures, small facial tics, and of course the hair flip. Most actors would perform, but she embodied the antisocial murder (which earned her a Best Actress Oscar). Theron’s ability to portray such an intense fear of abandonment but also an inability to maintain interpersonal relationships is heartbreaking when Aileen talks about her hope and love for her girlfriend Selby (Christina Ricci). Aileen desperately wanted companionship but when Selby eventually abandons her for immunity to all crimes, she understands that there's no hope for her.
The title of the film is not a direct reference to Wuornos, but a ferris wheel that she wanted to ride as a kid. When she finally did, her nerves got to her and threw up. This metaphor of wanting something so bad from the unfamiliar and not knowing what it costs reflects the decisions Wuornos took to stay alive and have a relationship with Selby. I have never seen such an outstanding personification from an actor like with Charlize Theron in this part – so subtle in her actions and choices to convey the inner conflicting emotions of a woman like Aileen.
The real Aileen Wuornos was executed via lethal injection one year prior to the film's release. In the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer by Nick Broomfield, some of Aileen’s last words to the camera were "A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit!" She was in contact with Jenkins during the last part of her life and knew about the film, and the writer/director said the day before Wuornos’ execution, she sent other letters between her and her friends to Jenkins and Theron. (+)