Cinema Consults: Monster

Physician's Money Digest, July31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 14

This film, which can be rented from your local video store, is rated on a scale of 1 to 4 caducei:

Cider House Rules

MONSTER (2003): To start, I wasn't very optimistic when I sat down to watch this movie. I couldn't imagine how Charlize Theron was going to pull off a portrayal of Aileen Wuornos—a prostitute-turned–serial killer, whose harsh life and emotional weight could crush a mediocre actor. In prior films, Theron had been little more than a prop, a beautiful blonde who acted well enough not to be noticed. In fact, I just debated with a coworker as to whether or not Theron appeared in (an excellent film that garnered Michael Caine an Oscar®); she did, but no one seems to remember. So how did Theron fare in this "monster" of a role? She was killer. Aside from the make-up, the weight gain, and the false teeth, Theron has crafted a character so compelling and so frightening that I don't think anyone will ever be able to debate her talent and her ability as an actor again. The story of Wuornos is gruesome and could easily swallow any attempt to portray her as a realistic character; through careful direction and attention to detail, Theron gives us a character that we may not be able to comprehend or sympathize with, but we are able to see her as a person. The script is really just a conduit for this character; that is the only story we are told. But given the performance, that is enough. This movie is not in any way uplifting or comforting, but it is insightful and gripping.

Rating: 3 1/2

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, managing editor of Physician's Money Digest, is currently working on her PhD in literature at Drew University in New Jersey. She is an avid fan of film and has taught a summer film course at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She welcomes questions, comments, or suggestions for future film reviews at 732-656-1140 ext 195 or ltomaszewski@mwc.com.