Charlize Theron delivers a knockout, cast-against-type performance in this gritty drama, based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a down and out prostitute who was sentenced to death after killing six men between 1989 and 1990. Christina Ricci costars as Selby Wall, a lesbian runaway who forms a romantic bond with Wuornos. Inspired by her love (even though she is not gay, strictly speaking) Wuornos tries to get a real job, but after meeting with a string of humiliating failures, she returns to work as a hitchhiking hooker, killing her first victim in self-defense after he rapes and beats her. Eventually, robbing and murdering her clients becomes almost second nature and by the end Wuornos even slays a man who was totally innocent (Scott Wilson). Theron's portrayal of this dangerous yet sympathetic character ranks with some of the greatest performances in cinema. Under heavy makeup, extra weight, and a snarling countenance, she proves herself a fearless, formidable talent, completely unrecognizable from the glamorous beauty of such films as THE ITALIAN JOB (2003) and THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (1997). First-time director Patty Jenkins proves herself with this fluid and engrossing work, capturing a lot of sordid detail that other movies exploring this milieu might miss; she also wrote the script, based on actual conversations and prison letters from Wuornos. The moody, paranoia-enhancing soundtrack is by electronica maestro BT.
Academy Awards Best Actress 2003 Charlize Theron American actress, MONSTER