Monster (2003 film)
|Directed by||Patty Jenkins|
|Written by||Patty Jenkins|
|Distributed by||Newmarket Films|
|Budget||$8M or $1.5M|
|Box office||$64.2 million|
Monster is a 2003 American biographical crime drama film written and directed by Patty Jenkins in her feature directorial debut. The film is about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a street prostitute who murdered seven of her male clients between 1989 and 1990 and was executed in Florida in 2002. It stars Charlize Theron (who also produced) as Wuornos, and Christina Ricci as her semi-fictionalized lover, Selby Wall (based on Wuornos's real-life girlfriend Tyria Moore).
Monster had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 16, 2003. On February 8, 2004, it premiered at the 54th Berlin International Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Bear, while Theron won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. The film was theatrically released in the United States on December 24, 2003, by Newmarket Films. Monster received positive reviews from critics and achieved box office success, grossing $64.2 million on an $8 million budget.
The film received a large number of awards and nominations, in particular for Theron's role, including the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, and also the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature (Patty Jenkins). Theron's acting has received critical acclaim; film critic Roger Ebert called Theron's role "one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema". The film was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2003.
In 1989, after moving from Michigan to Daytona Beach, Florida, and on the verge of committing suicide, street prostitute Aileen Wuornos meets Selby Wall in a gay bar. Although she is initially hostile and declares that she is not gay, Aileen talks to Selby while drinking beer. Selby takes to Aileen almost immediately, as she likes that she is very protective of her. Selby invites Aileen to spend the night with her. The two women return to the house where Selby is staying (temporarily exiled by her parents following the accusation from another girl that Selby tried to kiss her). They later agree to meet at a roller skating rink, and they kiss for the first time. Aileen and Selby fall in love, but they have nowhere to go, so Selby goes back to her aunt's home.
After being brutally raped and beaten by a client, Vincent Corey, Aileen kills him in self-defense and decides to quit prostitution. She confesses her actions to Selby, who has been angry with her for her failure to support both of them. Aileen decides to find legitimate work, but because of her lack of qualifications and criminal history, prospective employers reject her and are openly hostile. Desperate for money, Aileen returns to prostitution. She robs and kills her johns, each killed in a more brutal way than the last, as she is convinced that they are all trying to rape her. She spares one man out of pity when he admits he has never had sex with a prostitute. She also shows a predisposition to spare another man who, instead of exploiting her, offers help, but finds herself forced to shoot him after he spots her gun. Aileen uses the money she stole from her victims to support herself and Selby.
However, Selby reads in the newspapers about the string of murders, and she begins to suspect that Aileen may have committed them. She confronts Aileen, who justifies her actions by claiming she had only been protecting herself. Selby returns to Ohio on a charter bus. The night of her arrest, Aileen is approached at the biker bar she frequents by two strangers, who unbeknownst to her are bounty hunters. Thomas, whom Aileen always referred to as the only friend she had, infers the men's intentions and offers to drive her off. Aileen declines, no longer trusting herself with the well-being of anyone dear to her. The two men eventually lure Aileen out of the bar and she is promptly arrested by the police. Aileen speaks to Selby one last time while in jail. Selby reveals some incriminating information over the telephone and Aileen realizes that the police are listening in. To protect Selby, Aileen admits that she committed the murders alone. During Aileen's trial, Selby testifies against her, with Aileen's loving consent. Aileen is convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. On October 9, 2002, Aileen is executed by lethal injection.
- Charlize Theron as Aileen "Lee" Wuornos
- Christina Ricci as Selby Wall (based on Tyria Moore)
- Bruce Dern as Thomas, Aileen's friend
- Lee Tergesen as Vincent Corey (based on Richard Mallory)
- Annie Corley as Donna, Selby's aunt
- Pruitt Taylor Vince as Gene/Stuttering "john"
- Marco St. John as Evan/Undercover "john"
- Marc Macaulay as Will/Daddy "john"
- Scott Wilson as Horton/Last victim
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 81% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 190 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critics consensus states: "Charlize Theron gives a searing, deglamorized performance as real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, an intense, disquieting portrait of a profoundly damaged soul." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Monster received generally positive reviews from critics; most gave overwhelmingly high praise to Theron's performance as a mentally unstable woman – Wuornos had antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. For the role, Theron gained 30 pounds (14 kg), shaved her eyebrows, and wore prosthetic teeth. Critics called her performance, and her makeup, a "transformation". Film critic Roger Ebert named Monster ″the best film of the year″, gave it four stars out of four, and noted that Theron's role is "one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema":
Observe the way Theron controls her eyes in the film; there is not a flicker of inattention, as she urgently communicates what she is feeling and thinking [...] Aileen's body language is frightening and fascinating. She doesn't know how to occupy her body. Watch Theron as she goes through a repertory of little arm straightenings and body adjustments and head tosses and hair touchings, as she nervously tries to shake out her nervousness and look at ease. Observe her smoking technique; she handles her cigarettes with the self-conscious bravado of a 13-year-old trying to impress a kid. And note that there is only one moment in the movie where she seems relaxed and at peace with herself.— Roger Ebert; January 1, 2004
In 2009, Ebert named it the third-best film of the decade. Ricci's performance also drew some praise, but was not without criticism. In his review for the film, Ebert praised her performance, stating "Christina Ricci finds the right note for Selby Wall – so correct some critics have mistaken it for bad acting, when in fact it is sublime acting in its portrayal of a bad actor. She plays Selby as clueless, dim, in over her head, picking up cues from moment to moment, cobbling her behavior out of notions borrowed from bad movies, old songs, and barroom romances".
In 2005, a reference to Monster appeared in the series Arrested Development. Charlize Theron plays the role of Rita in the series, and in the episode ″The Ocean Walker″, a frame from Monster appears on the screen with the clarification that this is a photo of Rita a year ago before the plastic surgery.
In 2014, on Saturday Night Live, Charlize Theron made a self-reference to her role of Aileen Wuornos. In the sketch Pet Rescue Commercial, Kate McKinnon asked her to play a cat lady, whose image and behavior are based on Wuornos from Monster.
|2004||Academy Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2005||BAFTA Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2004||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||American Film Institute Awards||Movie of the Year||Monster||Won|
|2003||Awards Circuit Community Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2012||Best Actress of the Decade||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Berlin International Film Festival||Golden Bear||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|Silver Bear for Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Casting Society of America||Best Casting for Feature Film, Independent||Ferne Cassel, Kimberly Mullen||Won|
|2004||Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Edgar Allan Poe Awards||Best Motion Picture Screenplay||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|2005||GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|2004||Gold Derby Awards||Lead Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2010||Lead Actress of the Decade||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2003||Golden Schmoes Awards||Best Actress of the Year||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Golden Trailer Awards||Best Voice Over||Monster||Nominated|
|2004||Independent Spirit Awards||Best First Feature||Patty Jenkins||Won|
|Best First Screenplay||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|Best Female Lead||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||International Cinephile Society Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2004||International Horror Guild Awards||Best Movie||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|2004||International Online Cinema Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|Best Makeup and Hairstyling||Monster||Nominated|
|2010||International Online Film Critics' Poll||Best Actress of the Decade||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Iowa Film Critics Awards||Best Movie Yet to Open in Iowa||Patty Jenkins||Won|
|2004||Irish Film and Television Awards||Best International Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2005||Italian Online Movie Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2004||Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Christina Ricci||Nominated|
|2005||London Film Critics Circle Awards||Actress of the Year||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2004||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2004||MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|Best Kiss||Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci||Nominated|
|2003||National Board of Review Awards||Breakthrough Performance by an Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||National Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2003||New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2003||New York Film Critics Online Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Online Film & Television Association||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|Best Makeup and Hairstyling||Monster||Nominated|
|2004||Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2005||Robert Awards||Best American Film||Patty Jenkins||Nominated|
|2003||San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Santa Barbara International Film Festival||Outstanding Performer of the Year||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Satellite Awards||Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2003||Seattle Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|2003||Utah Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2004||Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Actress||Charlize Theron||Won|
|2003||Village Voice Film Poll||Best Performance||Charlize Theron||Nominated|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||January 30, 2004|
In 2004, BT released an official soundtrack to the film. Included with the release is a DVD featuring all fifteen original cues, and an additional nine cues that would not fit on the CD, as well as an interview with BT and Patty Jenkins, and remix files for "Ferris Wheel".
All music is composed by BT.
- "Childhood Montage"
- "Girls Kiss"
- "The Bus Stop"
- "Turning Tricks"
- "First Kill"
- "Job Hunt"
- "Bad Cop"
- "'Call Me Daddy' Killing"
- "I Don't Like It Rough"
- "Ferris Wheel (Love Theme)"
- "Ditch the Car"
- "Madman Speech"
- "Cop Killing"
- "News on TV"
Songs which appeared in the film, but not on the official soundtrack:
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- Rosen, Lisa (Winter 2013). "Natural-Born Director". Directors Guild of America. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
The miniscule $1.5 million budget and straight-to-video expectations actually helped give Jenkins the confidence to handle her first feature.
- Dir. Patty Jenkins stated in an interview on November 13, 2017 with film critic Thelma Adams that press accounts of the film's budget were exaggerated, saying that the budget was $1.5 million.
- "Monster (2003)". The Numbers. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
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- "Monster Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on February 4, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
- Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. Dir. Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. 2003.
- "Aileen Carol Wuornos #805". Clarkprosecutor.org. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Movie transformations". SFGate. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on June 5, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (December 30, 2009). "The Best Films of the Decade". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- Russell, Sue (February 8, 2004). "More of a Monster Than Hollywood Could Picture". Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 1, 2018.
- Stossel, John (January 6, 2006). "Stossel: How True Is 'Monster'?". ABC News. Archived from the original on November 12, 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
- Fox, Jesse (May 21, 2013). "Arrested Development's 20 Most Meta Meta-Moments". Vulture. Archived from the original on September 16, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- Murray, Noel (November 27, 2012). "Arrested Development: "Mr. F"/"The Ocean Walker"". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on November 16, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- Palmieri, Lea (July 18, 2017). "Was Charlize Theron's 'Arrested Development' Appearance The Show's Greatest Accomplishment?". Decider. Archived from the original on October 31, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- Bendix, Trish (February 4, 2015). "Kate McKinnon joins "SNL" castmembers past and present for photo shoot fun". AfterEllen. Archived from the original on March 18, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Pet Rescue Commercial - Saturday Night Live". YouTube. May 11, 2014. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- Crowley, Patrick (November 1, 2018). "'A Star Is Born' Scene Stealer Willam Talks New Comedy Album, Aileen Wuornos, Lady Gaga & More". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Aileen (Now That's What I Call Drag Music. vol 1 out now!)". YouTube. November 1, 2018. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Monster Soundtrack". SoundtrackNet. August 4, 2004. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2007.
- "Soundtracks". IMDB. Archived from the original on February 22, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
- Miska, Brad (September 20, 2021). "'Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman': Exclusive Look at "Cobra Kai" Star Peyton List in the Prequel to 'Monster' [Photos]". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on October 16, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2021.
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