Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

They say it’s the number of people I’ve killed. I say it’s the principle.

When I was first going through the list, and seeing notable films pop up from the pages at me, one in particular struck me as an odd choice. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, a documentary by Nick Broomfield. I’d heard of Wuornos mostly through the performance of Charlize Theron in Monster, which she won the Oscar for Best Actress for portraying Wuornos, but knew very little about the woman herself. I wondered just what could be fascinating enough to make a whole documentary out of, even one that’s only an hour and a half long. Then the subtitle sprang up; The Selling of a Serial Killer. It occurred to me that this would be a rather unorthodox documentary from what I was expecting, and now, finally having seen it, I was partially correct.

Nick Broomfield’s documentary is at once like and very unlike most other documentaries out there. It is structured very much like a typical documentary would be, or like an investigative news report of today. Broomfield spends a majority of the time going from person to person, attempting to ultimately get an interview with Wuornos herself, and the channels he tries to go through to get to her are primarily her adoptive mother, Arlene Pralle, and the lawyer behind Wuornos’ guilty pleas, Steve Glazer. It is through his attempts to go through these channels that another story, unanticipated by Broomfield, emerges; that of the people surrounding Wuornos, instead of the serial killer, and how and what they’ve done that may have facilitated Wuornos’ death sentence. It is quite interesting watching the interactions between Broomfield and his subjects evolve in this manner, and it is this that forms the principal entertainment value to be had from this watch, which was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

The film culminates, amusingly enough, in an interview with Wuornos herself, in which she pretty much lays out the whole point of what the film is ultimately about: how everyone around her is using her and her situation to advance their own causes, and how most of those causes are economic and monetary in nature. From movie deals with the cops, to interview fees with her adoptive mother and lawyer, everyone seems to be cutting a slice of the Wuornos pie for themselves, and to hell with what may be the best option for Aileen. In this way, the film does sympathize with the eponymous serial killer, which might be uncomfortable to some, but I am of the opinion that we need to understand people like this, one: so that we know enough to teach others not to be like this, and two: so that we can more accurately judge for ourselves whether she herself is worth judgment by us. This documentary does a good job of exposing the people around Wuornos who seem to have failed this assessment, and for that, I think this was pretty successful.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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