Convincing an audience to care about a character whose actions are deplorable and whose physical appearance is jarring is the sign of a very talented actor or actress. In the recent film "Dallas Buyers Club," Matthew McConaughey, usually considered a handsome leading man, lost a lot of weight and played down his natural good looks for his Oscar-nominated role as a sleazy cowboy. Similarly in the 2003 movie "Monster," Charlize Theron, a beautiful leading lady, gained a lot of weight and obliterated her usual good looks for her role as a prostitute turned murderer. Her ability to make the audience connect with a seemingly unlikeable character led her to an Academy Award win.
"Monster" is based on a true story. In it, Theron plays Aileen Wournos, a tough prostitute who had a miserable life and is about ready to kill herself. Before doing so, she goes to a bar for a drink and meets Selby (played by Christina Ricci). They fall for each other, and Aileen decides not to commit suicide. She quits hooking and tries to find a real job. When she cannot find one, she returns to her street life. One evening, Aileen is raped and she kills the rapist and takes his money. To support her life with Selby, she embarks on a robbery killing spree. Eventually, the police start looking for her.
Charlize Theron is amazing as Aileen Wournos. She shows that her character loves Selby and tries to do the right thing, but she transforms into a very scary serial killer. Christina Ricci is also impressive as Selby, who loves Aileen, but is uncomfortable with her dark side. The relationship between these characters is fascinating.
"Monster" is well-directed by Patty Jenkins. She shows that Aileen is a victim of an abusive childhood, and we feel sorry for her. Yet we also see that she is a dangerous killer.
"Monster" is a great film, especially for fans of true crime stories.