There is nothing extraordinary about Patty Jenkin's debut feature "Monster" except the transformation of the singularly beautiful (if somehow bland) Charlize Theron into a truly hideous creature.
For the role of Aileen, Theron gained over thirty pounds. In a Reuters interview, she said that put on the gain eating potato chips and that it was absolutely worth it. Oscar glory here she comes. At the screening I attended, an elderly man said: "Absolutely remarkable. She must have gained at least fifty pounds. Who'd believe that that's the girl from Cider House Rules?" Of course, the lithe actress has already lost the pounds, but she's gaining bucket loads of acclaim: she's been been awarded Best Actress by the Golden Globes and received the coveted Oscar nomination from the Academy.
The trick of becoming unattractive and downright pathetic in exchang for awards and acclaim has worked before. Nicole Kidman was rewarded for her marvelous performance in "The Hours" or was it the prothetic nose that dimmed her movie star looks? The most famous example is Halle Berry who won an Oscar for her performances as a dejected single mother in "Monster's Ball." Like Charlize Theron, she wept frequently throughout the film.
Truth be told, even with the weight gain, Theron is still a thin woman in "Monster." But her skin looks terrible, a combination of pasty, blotchy, and freckled splotch. (Apparently the make-up crew is also being considered for Oscar glory.) Her various muscle shirts are certainly not flattering, and the non-existent eyebrows somehow give her eyes a beady, ugly look. Her usually lustrous blond hair hangs flat and heavy. At times, trying to pick up johns by the side of the road, Theron is so repulsive that I found myself wanting to look away.
I'm just not sure that any of this makes her performance commendable. In fact, I was so distracted by trying to locate beautiful Charlize in the ugly Charlize that I had trouble seeing Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute who was executed last year in Florida after confessing to six murders, upon whose life the film is based. Theron delivers monologues regarding her abuse, shakes with revulsion after committing monstrous acts, and she professes her love for Christina Ricci profuselywith so much gusto, that I could not help but think, look, she's acting her heart out.