Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer & Monster

Columbia TriStar; Aileen $19.95, Monster $26.95, two-pack $39.95

While it's always fascinating to see a beautiful woman play an unattractive psycho, this double bill makes it clear: Charlize Theron really did become Aileen Wuornos. Viewing Nick Broomfield's documentary about the seven-time convicted killer alongside the Hollywood adaptation of her life, it's plain that the actress did more than just become bulky and ugly for the role; she nailed Wuornos' beaten-yet-perpetually-hopeful heart, her crazed Jack Nicholson–esque eyes, the occasional bleats of joy, and her lumbering, mannish walk. Christina Ricci is also amazing as Selby, Wuornos' whining, baby fat–packing lover; the two pretty much carry the entire film. Their love scenes are especially tender, and with a lot to tell in Wuornos' life story, Monster focuses mainly on the love story and the killing sprees.

Aileen takes up where Monster ends. Escorted by Nick Broomfield, the British muckraker/documentarian who also made Kurt and Courtney, we see Aileen only in her orange jumpsuit when she's behind Florida state bars, getting crazier and crazier. Interviews with Wuornos' few remaining friends and scattered "associates" and with the partially incoherent Wuornos herself yield a sense of urgency and tragedy that complete the story Monster began. This is a woman screwed, literally and figuratively, by just about everyone who got their hands on her, but she was also a woman determined to feel love. Both pictures convey this, and each is better when viewed in tandem with the other.

In a perfect DVD world, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer would be included as a special feature on Monster. As it is, Monster offers an incredibly bland interview between writer-director Patty Jenkins and composer "BT" and a mildly interesting "making of" mini-doc that shows Theron praising her director and going under the makeup airbrush. Aileen offers even less in the way of captivating special features. Renting or buying them as a two-pack is less than efficient, but the result is thoroughly engaging.

Laura Cassidy

Also out June 8 are Clint Eastwood's superb Mystic River, with Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, and Tim Robbins as childhood friends haunted by the past; Who's the Boss: The Complete First Season, in which Tony Danza will make you laugh and cringe; and a two-disc, 15th- anniversary edition of the Kevin Costner baseball favorite Field of Dreams, just in time for Father's Day.


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