Monster almost makes up for The Astronaut's Wife and The Cider House Rules. Almost.
I find it nearly impossible to forgive stars for inflicting bad performances and/or bad movies upon the public. As much as I love Kyle MacLachlan, I'll never forgive him for The Flintstones. The same goes for Matthew Broderick - The Cable Guy - why? Of course, Johnny Depp gets a pass for The Ninth Gate, but only by the thinnest margins of Fear and Loathing. With that in mind, Charlize Theron is one step closer to a pass...though I doubt that she'll have the good sense to start passing up tripe.
Many have accused Theron of merely uglying up for an Oscar nod. I even had that assumption before I actually saw the film. Admittedly, the makeup and hair and clothes made a very attractive woman look like she crawled out of a ditch, but that was irrelevant to her performance. As 'ugly' as she was, her performance was the truly ugliness. It's rare that I am actually able to overlook the actress and just see the character. As a rabid viewer of forensics shows, I've seen several documentaries on the real Aileen and her courtroom outbursts - for once, it wasn't overacting - Aileen really was a crazy bitch.
As for Christina Ricci, her performance wasn't noteworthy in any way. I assume that her character, Selby, was a bit difficult to capture as it could only be an approximation of Aileen's real companion, Tyria Moore. Tyria understandably distanced herself from the whole situation after selling Aileen down the river. Even so, Ricci's presence was entirely her own and not the character's.
Funny how some have accused Monster of showing Aileen's crimes in such a sympathetic light.I didn't feel that way at all. Of course, it's unlikely that Aileen was ever raped by any of her Johns. Even so, the depiction of her rape doesn't make her any more sympathetic. An unfortunate number of women are raped each day (about one per minute), but how many develop into serial killers afterwards? I think that the film took great strides to show how deeply wrong Aileen's murders were, starting first with her deserved rapist, moving to threatening Johns and ultimately onto someone who only wanted to help her.
Another glowing recommendation for the film? Monster was the first film in recent memory that my mother did not fall asleep during. Seriously, from the time my sister and I were old enough to go to the movies, it was a given that my mom would be snoring within the first 30 minutes - it was a wonder we didn't get snatched! Anyway, if it was good enough to keep her awake, it must have been kickass, right? It was either that, or all the yelling and screaming and cursing in the film...