It's not an awards seeking ‘transformation’ stunt.
I had many reservations going into MONSTER. Well, one main one. I sensed the intentions of Charlize and the filmmakers were to win awards for it’s leading lady. It just screamed – ‘look at what I’ve done to myself’ – ‘look at my transformation’. I always had that vibe with RAGING BULL as well – it just felt like its origins of taking the real life personal story to screen were more for the actor rather than the story. The inceptions weren’t pure. Maybe everyone’s Oscar crazed from the beginning but the story has to be there.
When I first saw MONSTER in the movie theater I can recall thinking, 'I really don’t mind if it’s not 100 percent autobiographical / accurate – it’s a great fucking film. The story is here'. Patty Jenkins (THE SAVAGES) deserves just as much credit as Charlize. The journey of past to present to tell this story is well crafted. A great script, beautifully directed and one hell of a DETAILED performance by Charlize Theron. She is truly possessed. Engulfed in the horrors of an abused childhood to a living killer. This is what happens when you don’t love your child. The bottom line of the story is love. The movie and performance was devastating and the actors and filmmakers felt like they had a mission far beyond the red carpets. Charlize made me a true believer.
Charlize Theron gives an extraordinarily powerful performance as the serial killer. And it was amazing how she was able to literally transform herself into the woman, Aileen Wuornos, mannerisms and all. This ‘transformation’ is not just make-up. It’s more than that – it’s a performance that is speaking directly at you. Yes, she speaks like Wuornos, walks like her, with a masculine swagger, flips her hair back, holds her mouth, captures her intensity, and her black eyes had always show a glint of madness as well as a yearning for love and a new beginning. More than an impersonation – it travels into the darkness and finds something we all have in common. The need to be heard, healed, and loved.
I remember Charlize talking about finding a real pair of Aileen’s ‘Capri Jeans’ from the time period of the killings - and that’s how she knew how big she needed to be and how she needed to stand and walk. How the knees buckled back a bit, it was all in the jeans. Charlize excavates Wournos physical and as well has her damaged psyche.
My favorite scene that shows her strength and complex depth is when she is determined to give up prostitution and get a respectable job. Her attempts to rebound herself after feeling love for the first time, Wuornos, pumped full of unrealistic expectations but lacking a marketable skill, endures a series of humiliating job interviews that are made all the worse by her own grating refusal to accept rejection. When she tells off the final employer – you feel all the pain and abuse from her past, as if her life were riding on that moment. As she lets him ‘have it’ in this scene, she illustrates perfectly the chasm between the smug workaday world and the demimonde of unsocialized outsiders who are clueless about the job market. Here she is both frightening and fascinating as well as inviting your comfort, hope and console. You pray this jerk is going to give her a break, but of course, like the rest of the world – he doesn’t. "Fuck you Leslie!"
This is truly a damaged child beyond redemption and reckoning. Charlize somehow manages to play both killer and victim without judging or leaning in one direction or another. She just puts it all out there - the anger, the ugly perspective and lack of any solid moral standing, the impulsive / immediate needs, the violence, the sharp tongue, and most importantly …the need to be loved.
Watch that last moment of the film where she looks back – right into the camera. Ah-mazing.