A heart of a monster (Monster movie review)

“Monster”, directed by Patty Jenkins, tells an authentic story of Aileen Wuornos (incredible Charlize Theron), who – after years of humiliation and never-ending trauma meets Selby (Christina Ricci) – a sweet and a little bit too naïve and innocent lesbian – who gives her feelings that she has never known before. The protagonist, having experienced love and friendship on one hand and mortal danger on the other hand, she tries to change her life – leave prostitution and get back her place in healthy society. But the system is cruel and it has no mercy for those who were outside of it for too long. The titled “monster” is a product of a blind, patriarchal system that divides people into those who deserve help and being heard and those who are condemned to the fate of excluded, hated.  The dramaturgical weight of the story is put on the complexity a monstrous human being who is capable of murdering people with cold blood, but who also fears, loves, suffers and dreams of better life.

“Monster” is a movie that – like many others – tells a real story of a serial killer, which is always temping and fascinating for the audience. Nevertheless, Jenkins’s film is very unique at the same time. Aileen has murdered six men, but the director turns the scenes of crimes into a background – she avoids pornography of violence that usually goes hand by hand with stories like that this and focuses on the psychical condition of the protagonist and – above all – on circumstances that have led here to both – prison and death sentence. What’s important, love story is in this movie something more than a secondary threat – the creators expose it to on the one hand contrast patriarchal, normative, oppressive schemes with the other – gay – way. Lesbian love is not presented as a cure, on the contrary – it makes Aileen’s situation even more complicated and dramatic, but it seems to be representing both – power of the margin and a space in which empathy and different sensibility is possible.

Aileen – thanks to the script, but – above all – to amazing creation of Theron – is a multidimensional, fascinating and truly thrilling character. The actress manages to portrait her character’s pain and impulsiveness that seems to be a source of rare moments of her happiness, but also – of her tragedy. We meet the protagonist when, after unsuccessful suicide, she gets drunk in the bar, where she meets Selby, who was sent by her parents to her aunt’s house to heal herself from homosexuality. Two maladjusted and unaccepted girls who represent two totally different but at the same time equally messed up worlds begin to combine a specific bond and fight for live in which they could be in charge.

“Monster”, above all, is a great psychological portrait of a woman pushed to the margin of society, whose life seems to be a never-ending series of torments, disappointments, and humiliations. She kills her first victim in self-defence, but other deaths of the rest of men are usually connected to both – money and fear that makes Aileen see a potential monster, pervert, dangerous deviant who deserves the worst in almost every guy that she is in a car with.  The collection of dead men also seems to be a symbolical victory against violent, unfair system that blames female victims and listens only to the voices of privileged ones.

The best thing about “Monster” is the fact that the director remains as objective as possible. On the screen we see a mad murdered, a woman in love, emotionally instable alcoholic, a person that has experienced more than anyone ever should, and – last but not least – a naïve girl who believes in dreams. Jenkins doesn’t want us to exculpate the protagonist, but she also doesn’t want us to see in here nothing than a titled monster. She wants the audience to see Aileen as a troubled, complex human being and she does not fail.