The film is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), an American serial killer who was executed in Florida for the murder of six men.
It starts when a suicidal Wuornos wanders into a gay bar in Florida. Working as a prostitute, she is broke, hungry and living rough. She meets Selby Wall (Christina Ricci) a young girl whose parents have sent her to live with her aunt so that she can sort herself out and leave her lesbian ways. Selby is kind to Wuornos and for the first time in her life she feels wanted and loved. Neither of them have any money and Wuornos has to continue prostituting on the streets. One night she is picked up by a man who turns violent and rapes her. She struggles free and shoots him dead with his own gun. A spiral of hatred and murder is unleashed.
The film tells a tragic, upsetting story of a woman who was abused as a child, used by those around her and left to fend for herself. She turns to prostitution at an early age to survive. It depicts a person who was shown no love or affection, a person who was never wanted. By concentrating on the person and her relationship with Selby, instead of the murders, a certain understanding and sympathy is generated. She may not be a likeable character but neither are the people who abused her. Wuornos is portrayed as a pathetic person who is almost as much a victim herself as the men she killed.
Christina Ricci plays Aileen’s girlfriend, Selby Wall. Selby is young, naive and selfish. She is loving but also demanding, whiney and needy. It is very interesting because even though she loves Aileen and is one of the few people to offer her kindness she also uses her and unconsciously helps push her towards her doom.
Much has been made of Charlize Theron’s performance for which she received an Oscar for best actress. She is barely recognisable as herself after a makeover which included a set of false teeth and she reportedly put on two stone for the part. She definitely deserved the Oscar for her powerful performance. The character portrays and outward strength but beneath the surface is a lonely, troubled person who has taken as much as they can.
The Bottom Line: This harrowing drama is far from light entertainment but it is the type of film that makes you think and will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.
Lasting Thought: Who’s to blame, the monster or the people who created the monster?