Charlize Theron doesn’t play Aileen Wuornos, she incarnates her. At the end of hertether, highway prostitute Aileen meets 18-year-old Selby (Christina Ricci) when she accidentlywalks into a lesbian bar. They click, and suddenly, Aileen has a reason to live. She tries to turnher life around, but with the implacability of Greek tragedy, her attempts end in failure and shereturns to turning tricks. One date goes turns ghastly, and she kills the brutal john in self-defense…The road to hell opens, and before long, Aileen isn’t killing out of self-defense anymore.
Theron’s performance warrants all the accolades it gathered. Sure, her Robert De Niro-stylephysical transformation is impressive (Renee Zellweger, eat your heart out), but Theron’sachievement is so much more than weight gain and make-up. In every gesture, in every awkwardstep she stakes, in every agonized or hopeful blaze of her eyes, Theron makes us becomeWuornos as much as she does. Rather unjustly overlooked in all the media frenzy surroundingTheron is Ricci, who is very impressive herself as the selfish, manipulative, immature Selby.Ricci plays young as convincingly as Theron plays brawler. And then there’s Patty Jenkins’ scriptand direction. Neither demonizing nor exculpating Wuornos, Jenkins illuminates the life andmind of a murderer for us in a way that has seldom, if ever, been accomplished.
Given all the attention the extras pay to the sound, it had better be good, and it is. Forinstance, the surround effects kick in with tremendous effect: the pre-credits sequence only hasTheron’s voice-over for sound, but the moment the title appears, the sounds of rain explode outof the speakers. This is an instance where the sound FX aren’t just impressive — they speak to themood of the shot, and the theme of the film. The immersive effects continue throughout. Themusic is very strong as well, and was composed in 5.1.
Great sound, great picture. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image has profound blacks,nailed contrasts, and rich yet naturalistic colours. The flesh tones are stunning, and there is nograin (except where deliberate) or edge enhancement. The picture is as sharp as one could wish.The DVD comes very, very close to recreating the theatrical look of the movie.
If I might continue my self-plagiarism for a minute, here is what I had to say aboutthe features that were already present on the first release: “The making-of featurette is better thanmost, and is actually quite informative rather than being purely promotional. The other featuretteis devoted to the score, and features much dialogue between Jenkins and composer BT. The filmmixing demo allows you to decide what combination of dialogue, music or FX you want to hearduring the fairground scene.”
The new stuff on Disc 2 (which has all of the above) is 5 deleted/extended scenes (some ofwhich are outtakes) with commentary by director Patty Jenkins. On Disc 1, what’s new is thecommentary by Jenkins, Theron and Clark Peterson (one of the producers). Their discussion isvery thoughtful, but I can’t see that we needed two discs for this package. You also have theexpected clutch of trailers (including the feature’s). The menu’s main screen and intro are fullyanimated and scored.
By almost any measure, an astonishing achievement. The DVD looks and sounds great, andthe added extras are nice, but still don’t add up to much beyond the ordinary.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Soundtrack Featurette
- Film Mixing Demo
- Interview with Patty Jenkins and BT (Composer)
- Extended and Deleted Scenes