Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Written by:Patty Jenkins
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergensen
Released: March 25, 2004
Grade: A

We all know what it is like to passionately believe in something.  When someone tries to tell us we are wrong, we don’t listen and wonder how stupid the other person must be.  We are unwilling take a step back and look at the bigger picture.  Watching Monster left me contemplating these beliefs.

Aileen and Selby are two of the most brilliant flawed characters I have seen on screen and I do not use the term “flawed” in a negative sense.  Aileen (played by Charlize Theron) once had dreams of becoming a great actress.  Now she is a struggling prostitute giving serious thought to taking her own life.  Selby (played by Christina Ricci) is a lonely teenager in search of love.  Her parents and friends can’t accept the fact she is a homosexual and she is looked upon with distaste.

The two meet in a bar and find a similarity in each other.  A quasi-relationship develops and for the first time in a long time, there’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale life.  Both are then overcome by the new emotions and behave irrationally.  Aileen quits her prostituting job believing she’s get work as a veterinarian or lawyer.  Selby walks out on her family and believes she’ll walk into a life of wealth and privilege.

These actions are undeniably stupid but we must remember that these are dumb girls.  Screenwriter Patty Jenkins knows this and perfectly illustrates their stupidity.  You cringe watching their actions but deep down there is sympathy towards them as you know they are only following their broken hearts and misguided thoughts.

History tells us that Aileen murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990 and after being found guilty, was executed in 2002.  This isn’t a cheap serial killer flick where the clichéd good guy chases after the clichéd bad guy.  There is as I like to say “food for thought”.  What Aileen did was horribly wrong but when you look at her relationship with Selby and her upbringing as a child you see that no one person is solely responsible for such actions.  This directly contradicts the belief that many have in this world and I praise Monster for bringing these issues to the surface.  There are two sides to EVERY story.

The recent Academy Award win of Charlize Theron (best actress) is the perfect advertisement to attract an audience for the film’s Australian release.  Her performance is incredible.  The make-up and extra weight has Theron looking distinctly different but her nervous twitches and the crazy look in her eye left me in awe of her previously untapped talent.  I will not even try to get on my soap box and argue against the Academy (as I usually do) because they got it well and truly right.  My only disappointment is that more haven’t recognised the equally amazing performance of Christina Ricci.  The gifted 24-year-old now has over 35 film credits to her name and she is well overdue for greater recognition.

With some scenes guaranteed to shock, Monster is deserving of an MA rating but if you do pass the 15-year-old benchmark, this is one film you won’t want to miss.