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2004 Mini Reviews

Monster

Monster
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Starring Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern

The film has some problems, many of which are compensated by Theron's strong performance. Her performance in itself is worth seeing, and she almost makes this a good movie, but not quite.

What about Theron's performance? It was very well-done, without question, but I don't think she quite deserves all the praise she has received. I think a lot of that praise has to do with her look more than the performance itself, and the look certainly impressed me too. She didn't look like the beautiful Charlize Theron that we're accustomed too. I didn't see Aileen, but instead saw an uglier Charlize the whole time. I doubt whether this performance would be heralded by so many if it were performed by a less attractive actress, which makes me wonder why they cast Theron to begin with. I know, it sounds like I'm criticizing Charlize when I'm really not. She was brilliant at times and is definitely in my top 5 of the year, but this performance is being touted as legendary (like Swank's Boys Don't Cry), which is not the case.

Theron's performance did hide many problems in the writing and character development. In fact, I found it to be a rather poor portrayal of a serial killer, and it unfortunately focused more on the person and less on the crimes she committed, resulting in a sloppy narrative. At times it seemed almost incidental that this character was killing people. It also seemed to hold back on really coming to understand why she did these things. It successfully showed that she was in pain, had a hard life, and we understood why she killed the first time, but not why she continued. Was it for money, for a car, to punish the assholes of the world? The filmmakers had such a great story, but they seemed to stop short when it came to turning it into a great movie.

Score: 6/10


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