on December 24, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
In the biopic "Monster," an unrecognizable Charlize Theron portrays the nation's first female serial killer. Through makeup, a dental piece and a 30-pound weight gain, the lithe blonde model and former ballerina, who also produces, is a dead ringer for Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute since age 13 whose life story is a series of one hard knock after another. Theron's transformation is fearless--she even appears onscreen in an unattractive underwear shot, a daring move for a Hollywood movie starlet--and, aside from some posturing that smacks of imitating a man, she marks a bold new direction for an actress seeking more challenging roles. "Monster" depicts the pivotal months in 1989-1990 when Wuornos robs and murders seven men whom she encounters while turning tricks along the highway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Although the first is self-defense against a sick bastard who would have killed her once he had his way with her, the others are a means of funding her new life with Selby (Christina Ricci), a fictional character based on Wuornos' real-life lover whose Midwest Christian parents have sent her to Florida to "cure her homosexuality."

Ultimately, "Monster" is an at-once horrifying and touching love story about the disenfranchised on whom society turns its back--a segment of the population not portrayed often enough on film--and Wuornos is an engaging character whose optimism knows no bounds. If she hadn't gotten into hooking, she says, she would have like to have been a veterinarian or a businessperson, and she applies, with utter sincerity, to be a legal secretary. Starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci. Directed and written by Patty Jenkins. Produced by Charlize Theron, Mark Damon, Clark Peterson, Donald Kushner and Brad Wyman. A Newmarket release. Biographical drama. Rated R for strong violence and sexual content and for pervasive language. Running time: 109 min

Tags: Starring Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Directed, written by Patty Jenkins. Produced by Charlize Theron, Mark Damon, Clark Peterson, Donald Kushner, Brad Wyman, Newmarket, Biographical drama

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