If you have never watched the police interviews you should, because they tell you everything you will ever need to know. Aileen Wuornos sits in front of the detective and laughs, or cries, or curses, or prays, like a flip book character sped up or slowed down by some unseen hand. Wuornos is as stable as boiling oil in a hailstorm. You cannot help but walk away believing that woman is capable of murder and just as incapable of understanding what it means.
“Monster” the 2003 movie written and directed by Patty Jenkins takes us all down to Wournos’ level, and holds us there for the better part of two hours. Charlize Theron slips inside of Wournos’s skin like a doppelganger and she won an Oscar for it. It’s hard to believe it’s Theron in there, and it’s hard to imagine what it was like. “I watched a lot of film” Theron said when how she asked how she managed to become that character. And if you watch the police
interviews you can see that Theron did.
The movie guides the viewer through a side of life in the Sunshine State that excludes Mouse Ear Hats and Princesses. There are no tourists here. There are no happy endings. There is the harsh reality that life is process, and at one point Wournes is rebuffed by a potential employer, who says, “…When the beach party is over, you don’t get to say, “You know what? Now I think I’d like to have what everybody else has worked their entire life for.” It doesn’t work that way.”
Was Wuornos guilty of killing seven men? The film says she was, and she confessed to the murders. It’s easy to believe she did, and convenient. All the evidence, most of it circumstantial, points to Wuornos, but we will never really know. All the killings took place, if you believe what you’re told, between one woman and her victim. The weapon was never found, but the Florida coast is a very large place.
I’m not here trying to make some sort of argument that Wuornos was innocent of the crimes, or that her execution was anything but a bit of mercy for everyone involved. But unlike most movies whose subjects are serial killers who are captured, tried, and put to death, “Monster” leaves you with the feeling terrible things have happened and nothing, nothing at all, was done to make anything better at all.
I watch this movie every once in a while to remind me there are monsters, and not all of them are things we can see.
Monster (2003) – Rated R
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit