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Film / Monster

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Monster (2003) is a biographical crime drama about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing seven men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was played by Charlize Theron, and her lover, Selby Wall, was played by Christina Ricci (Wuornos' lover's name was actually Tyria Moore, but her character's name, age, and appearance in the film were changed for legal reasons). The film was written and directed by Patty Jenkins.

Theron earned the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for performance as Wuronos.

This movie has no connection with the anime and manga Monster or the sci-fi film Monsters.


This movie provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Tyria Moore, Wuornos' real-life girlfriend, looked like this. Selby Wall, on the other hand, is played by Christina Ricci.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Aileen and Tyria lived together for years before Aileen committed her first murder. In the film, Aileen and Tyria (here renamed "Selby") first meet only days before it.
  • Asshole Victim: Let's face it, Aileen's first victim had it coming. The rest... didn't.
  • Beauty Inversion:
    • Charlize Theron gained between 20 and 30 pounds and shaved her eyebrows to play Wuornos. With all the press for a young beautiful actress with that kind of dedication, she got the Best Actress Oscar in a walk.
    • Christina Ricci also gained 20 pounds for the role and both actresses dressed in very un-glamourous clothing.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In a very meta sense. In the opening narration, Aileen says she always wanted to be in the movies.
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  • BFG: Aileen in the film uses an unrealistically massive long barrel revolver, not quite the weapon expected for a petite woman, in Real Life half a head shorter than Charlize Theron herself. It's actually a Smith & Wesson 617, a training revolver in .22LR caliber built on the same frame as large-caliber models, to give the same feeling in hand. Her Real Life counterpart used a much smaller gun in the same .22 caliber.
  • Broken Bird: Very, very broken. To say nothing of her real-life childhood (the film begins in 1989), she is raped and commits her first murder in self-defense, tries but fails to get out of prostitution when no one will hire her, suffers from schizophrenia, and things only go further downhill when she starts to kill again.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Several, but Aileen's failed job interview at the hands of a very smug lawyer deserves mention.
    Lawyer: I see you're from Daytona Beach, all of that looks great, it must be wonderful. But can I tell you something? When the beach party is over, you don't get to say, "You know what? Now I think I'd like to have what everybody else has worked their entire life for." It doesn't work that way.
    Aileen: (beat) Fuck you, man. Yeah, fuck you! YOU DON'T FUCKIN' KNOW ME!
    Lawyer: Okay, great. That's great. See, now I'm so sorry I didn't hire you before. Leslie, could you please escort Miss... I don't even know her name because of course she doesn't have a resume... out.
    Aileen: I don't need a fuckin' escort, you piece of shit! What, you think I'm a fuckin' retard? Take your fuckin' job and fuckin' shove it!
    (Leslie hesitantly tries to escort her out of the building)
    Aileen: Fuck you, Leslie!
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Subverted. The first victim, played by Lee Tergesen, tries to turn Aileen into this but she kills him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Aileen goes from murdering an abusive would-be pimp who sexually assaults her to murdering guys just for indulging in prostitution to murdering men just because she's pissed and they're there.
  • Doomed by Canon: Well, doomed by real life. After killing her first victim, Aileen makes a desperate attempt to quit prostitution and find some other means of earning a living. It... doesn't go well.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aileen was fully intending to kill herself prior to meeting Selby.
  • Fan Disservice: Aileen and Selby's sex scene, although this is probably intentional (yet it is also played in a rather sweet manner). Also, the scene with Aileen glancing at her naked, bloodstained body in the bathroom mirror.
  • Howl of Sorrow: When one of her victims starts crying and begging for his life, Aileen snaps and shoots him dead while letting out one of these (although it's more like a Howl Of Rage).
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Aileen doesn't consider herself gay, but enters into a loving relationship with Selby.
  • I Have a Family: One of Aileen's victims tries this very shortly before she pulls the trigger on him.
  • Jerkass:
    • Good luck trying to find a moment in the movie where Aileen herself isn't a bitch. She arguably crosses into Jerkass Woobie territory on a few occasions, though.
    • The lawyer Aileen launches a Cluster F-Bomb against, and the cop who picks her up while she's jobhunting.
  • Large Ham: Most of the main characters play everything like this, even the most innocuous scene. This contributes to the absurdly-funny atmosphere despite the tragedy of the events.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Part of Aileen's motivation for the murders is so she can rob her victims afterwards to support herself and Selby.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Aileen, as demonstrated by this exchange:
    Selby: We can be as different as we wanna be, but you can't kill people!
    Aileen: SAYS WHO?! I'm good with the Lord. I'm fine with him. And I know how you were raised, alright? And I know how people fuckin' think out there, and fuck, it's gotta be that way. They've gotta tell you that 'Thou shall not kill' shit and all of that. But that's not the way the world works, Selby. Cuz I'm out there every fuckin' day living it. Who the fuck knows what God wants? People kill each other every day and for what? Hm? For politics, for religion, and THEY'RE HEROES! No, no... there's a lot of shit I can't do anymore, but killing's not one of them. And letting those fucking bastards go out and rape someone else isn't either!
  • Miss Swears-a-Lot: Aileen loves her swearing. This slips after the first half hour in the film into Historical Villain Downgrade: (dangerously-psychotic in Real Life) Aileen after a few scenes of hysterical antics appears rather absurdly funny.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aileen when she finds one victim's badge.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Aileen is mostly referred to as "Lee" throughout the film.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Aileen kills her first victim after he rapes and brutalises her. With all her later victims, however, she believes that she is paying evil unto evil, when, in all actuality, they didn't deserve it.
  • Pet the Dog: Aileen spares one of her intended victims out of pity, after it turns out he's never hired a prostitute before and is extremely nervous. Of course, she immediately follows this act of mercy by murdering an innocent man who just wanted to help her get home.
  • Psycho Lesbian / Depraved Bisexual
  • Serial Killer: Aileen Wuornos is perhaps the most infamous female serial killer in United States history.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Thomas hints at being this, during his conversation with Aileen. "What you're feeling right now is guilt, over something you had absolutely no control over. Do you know how many of us came back from the war, and almost killed ourselves because we felt exactly the same way?"
  • Shout-Out: "Gassenhauer" is played, an obvious homage to Badlands.
  • Shown Their Work: The way the movie portrays what happened to Aileen was probably very close to the truth. She killed her first victim out of self defense, and her rising schizophrenia likely helped her jump to some unusual conclusions that led her to continue. The director also personally met with Wuornos to get the film as accurate as possible.
  • Society Is to Blame: Aileen had been forced into prostitution and ended up being raped, leading her to kill in self-defense. Which led to her committing more murders. Indeed, her real life final words were to this very effect.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Arguably justified. After being raped by the man who turns out to be her first victim, Aileen escapes, grabs his gun, blasts him several times, continues firing into his corpse and does not stop until she's completely emptied the clip. Shortly after, she starts beating his corpse with the gun whilst punctuating each beat with rage-filled insults. Of course Aileen follows up this act of self-defense with a string of cold-blooded murders, all while still using the justification of self-defense.
  • Villain Protagonist
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Aileen may have been depraved, but damn if she hadn't been given an awful deck of cards.

Statler: So how did you like the movie Monster?
Waldorf: Like it? I married one!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

Example of: