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Tragic 1 Star

Charlize Theron
Christina Ricci
Bruce Dern.
Patty Jenkins.
Patty Jenkins.
Running Time
109 minutes

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Charlize Theron in an Oscar winning performance as female serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

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It's the late '80s in Florida and lonely prostitute Aileen Wuornos - now remembered as America's first female serial killer - meets and falls for an isolated young lesbian, Selby (based on Wuornos' real-life girlfriend, Tyria Moore).

You might imagine that Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning performance as damaged prostitute and drifter Aileen Wuornos could never live up to the hype. In fact, it's so unnervingly accurate it almost threatens to overshadow the whole film.

Those who've seen either of Nick Broomfields Wuornos documentaries will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief when a prosthetically-altered Theron swaggers into the film's opening scene: she's perfected Wuornos' bug-eyed stare, jerky mannerisms and nervous, toothy grin, never risking caricature thanks to an all-consuming, intense performance.

Intensity is the name of the game in this debut feature from Patty Jenkins, based on conversations and letters from Wuornos before she was executed. Despite their almost comical differences, Wuornos and Selby - a streetwise prostitute and a naive, boyish lesbian (excellently underplayed by Ricci) ù embark on a suffocating relationship that implicitly plays a part in Wuornos' decision to kill.

When she first retaliates in self-defence, she's also defending a fresh notion of self-respect gleaned from the relationship sheÆs determined to survive for. Later, she justifies her murder and robbery of clients because it's to support Selby, but TheronÆs narration as Wuornos also implies psychological trauma caused by childhood abuse and life as a despised outcast.

Like Thelma & Louise, this is about empowerment through masculinisation of behaviour, but Wuornos' empowerment brings little joy, and male victims become more sympathetic as she becomes increasingly ruthless.
'The intensity of the filmÆs focus is a mixed blessing. Resolutely one-track, it follows Wuornos and Selby exclusively, never cutting to cops on the trail as a more conventional serial killer story might. This is a character study, not a thriller, almost parochial in its devotion to its central subject.

Theron's convincing portrayal lends credibility to a story whose truth was laid to rest with its protagonists, and the exploration of her character raises questions about patriarchal middle America and the consequences of its dislike of difference.

Immaculate performances combine with confident, if insular, direction to make this a thought-provoking drama laced with humour and pathos. Oh, and there’s a great soundtrack, too.

Reviewed by Anna Smith

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charlize therons performance is mesmerizing ... More

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Posted by jordan thomas at 17:30, 16 January 2012 | Report This Post


This, loosely true, story of female serial killer Aileen Wuouros is an intriguing and original one, but the film is plotted too loosely, and the style is somewhat unfitting to the story. Whoever decided that an upbeat 70s disco stylee was right for a 'true' serial killer movie? Apart from that, the script is solid, Theron shines and the two leads have genuine chemistry. Well worth a look. ... More

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Posted by blaud at 19:09, 08 March 2011 | Report This Post


A truly amazing film with arguably one of the greatest female performances of all time. Charlize Theron worked really hard on this movie and she really deserved all the praise she got because of it. Her portral of Wornous is amazingly accurate. She gets her speech and mannerisms spot on. Christina Ricci is great support as Selby, I was surprised she didn't recieve a nomination for her performance as well. The film is surprisingly moving, and it was one of them films that keeps you thinking... More

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Posted by buffy at 16:21, 26 November 2006 | Report This Post

A terrific film

Because it focuses on the relationship between Aileen and Selby, this succeeds in transcending the obvious exploitation flick that a film like 'Hillside Strangler' failed to do. There is one thing though and I feel really awful bringing this up. In the restaurant scene, where the manager tells Aileen to put her fag out. Charlize Theron's performance in that scene, I couldn't help but think of Michael Keaton's character in 'Beetlejuice' and I burst out laughing. I'm so sorry, etc... ... More

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Posted by TheMadFatChickKiller at 12:40, 22 February 2006 | Report This Post

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