Everything you've heard about Charlize Theron in this film is absolutely true -- her performance is excellent. If only it were true about the rest of the film. First-timer Patty Jenkins has a provocative premise here, and she was wise to cast the underrated Theron (whom I've been a fan of since her fierce turn in The Devil's Advocate
, which brings me to an aside: the only reason this performance is being called "surprising" and "revelatory" is that ever since Advocate
, Theron's been stuck in roles where all she's called on to do is stand around and look sexy/concerned/happy/etc.)... but she also makes a first-timer misjudgement in focusing the story on the relationship between Theron's Aileen Wuornos and Christina Ricci's Selby. In essence, what could have been a compelling and nerve-racking story about a damaged woman going off her nutter is hamstrung by a head-scratching reliance on Queer Cinema cliche (in particular the hefty use of songs-as-emotional-cues, which without fail drives me crazy). Still worth seeing for Theron's Oscar-ready work, which creates a number of memorable moments (the murder in the woods, in particular, is queasy stuff), but be forewarned that beyond Theron (and Ricci, who's better here than she's been in anything since Buffalo '66
), this is solid craftsmanship and nothing more.