A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is for viewers 17 and up only. The main character in this fact-based story is a serial killer and a prostitute. The movie has explicit sexual references and situations, including gay sex, prostitution, and rape, extremely strong language, violence (including a brutal rape and several murders), smoking and drinking. There are tense and upsetting scenes.
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What's the story?
MONSTER depicts the story of the woman called America's first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), who was abused as a child and began turning tricks at age 13. She thinks she has nothing to live for until she meets Shelby (Christina Ricci), a shy and needy lesbian. Even though Aileen is not gay, she is drawn to Shelby. For a moment, it seems that she can find a new life for herself. But she has no skills and no capacity to get a legitimate job. She is forced to go back to prostitution to take care of Shelby, and when a customer rapes and beats her, she snaps, and she kills him. She takes his money and his car. And then she begins to entrap and kill more men, each less justified than the last as she becomes more desperate and ultimately delusional.
Is it any good?
Glamour girl Charlize Theron's breathtaking, heartbreaking transformation into the completely opposite image of Wuornos makes this film an astonishing achievement. The movie wisely does not pretend to explain what was going on in the mind and soul of a woman who was mentally ill. Unlike the similar Boys Don't Cry however, it is unable to elevate the facts into a larger story about identity and intimacy.
What makes the movie worthwhile is Theron's performance, open, vulnerable, tragic, moving, and most of all, honest. Aileen's behavior is contradictory, volatile, and disturbed. She loses control and lashes out irrationally. There are moments when I was not sure whether Theron was acting or just trying to keep her dental appliance from slipping, and no one could make some of those voiceover speeches work, but with the ferocity of her grip on the character she never lets us lose sight of Aileen's humanity. Theron's portrait of Aileen is sympathetic without pretending that she is more of a victim than the men she killed.
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