Sunday, January 25, 2004

tragic ends, II

The other movie we saw was bone-shaking sad, Patty Jenkin's Monster, a fictional portrayal of Florida serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos, chillingly and sypathetically acted by Charlize Theron.

Theron is totally transformed, losing her striking good looks. There is no glamour in this movie. Aileen was a hooker since age 13, and her body reflected the results of her hard life. Theron totally inhabits the character. Opposite her is Christina Ricci playing Selby, a mousy young lesbian, barely out of the closet, who falls in love with Aileen.

The find each other, bringing a hope for love, and a life different than the one they knew. Neither, however have the ability to support another person, muchless themselves.

The result is Aileen's murderous acts, each a mistake leading to another one, in part revenge, in part economic need, and in great part the result of a mental breakdown, a person whose rage at being assaulted started at a young age.

The murders are pretty straight forward, and except for the first one, which was in self-defense, Aileen's victims are quickly presented as people at the wrong place, with the final one a fellow thinking he was helping a woman out who was stranded.

All along, we get a moral lesson, a voiceover by Aileen, mocking all the cliches about working hard and hoping for something, a Prince Charming, a movie producer, somebody to recognize her worth, her beauty, someone who would transform her life.

If Cold Mountain lingered in my mind long after I saw it, this one scared me long after I saw it. This is a vision of poor Americans, on the edge of what we think is basic middle class life. These are the people we try to avoid, poor, angry, violent.

It's similar in tone to Boys Don't Cry, the movie that won Hillary Swank an Oscar a few years ago. Theron will probably win for this performance.

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