Aileen Wuornos, an ex-hooker, was convicted of seven murders of her clients commited over several years around 1990. She was in jail for twelve years, and finally executed in 2002. The convicted woman has been captured in an unforgettable portrayal by the South Africa bred actress Charlize Theron. This performance, rated by Roger Ebert as among the best in the history of cinema, has been compared to that of Maria Falconetti as Joan of Arc.
Criminals are not a breed apart, genetically wired. They are us, in different circumstances. They are natural by-products of society as it is constituted. Going by the film alone, Wuornos, due to lack of education or parenting, drifts into a livelihood of prostitution, which, at a point of sadistic abusiveness at the hands of her client, results in his murder. She decides to give up her profession for a job, but finds doors closed, mainly due to lack of education. Thereafter, she commits a series of murders, mainly for money to support a gay teenager who has become dependant on her, and for whose sake she is impelled into the series of crimes, and who is the one to finally betray her.
We see a human being, deficient in inner equipage and anchoring sucked by a powerful maelstrom of environmental forces into a trajectory the responsibility for which cannot be laid at a single door. The film is a compassionate study of the downtrodden and an indictment of present day human society. One is reminded of Gandhi's famous quip when asked his opinion of modern civilisation. He replied he thought it was a good idea. The law of the jungle still rules our world and it is a war to death between the haves and the have-nots.
Theron's portrayal of the tragic character has the momentum and inevitability of a natural calamity. Loose limbed, overflowing her clothes, like a river in spate or a log racing downstream, her flight towards doom is swift and preordained. It has been said that weakness is the greatest sin.
A deeply humanistic film.
*I would not have seen this movie but for it's inclusion in Ebert's new list of ten best films of the decade. ( Link below. )
Roger Ebert's review
Wiki article on Aileen Wuornos
Ebert's best films of the decade