Give back that oscar. No sooner does Charlize Theron prove she can act by tubbing up and dressing down to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster than she dives back into diet, hair and makeup to portray glam party girl Gilda Besse in a World War II melodrama of epic silliness and supreme vapidity. Watching Theron strike sexy poses in Mario Davignon's period costumes while the script paints her into corners reminds you of all the pinup roles (Sweet November, Reindeer Games, The Legend of Bagger Vance) that damn near wrecked her career pre-Monster. Writer-director John Duigan (Flirting, Sirens) pretends to be interested in a spy plot that involves Gilda and the two people who moon over her (Guy (Stuart Townsend), a Dubliner with ideals, and Mia (Penelope Cruz), a stripper turned nursing student) both of whom leave Gilda in Paris while they go off to fight with the Republican army in Spain. This is not before Theron gets to do a topless tub scene with real-life love Townsend and a lesbo tango in leather with Cruz. Gilda beds them both (in one scene together) but this spark-free film has no place to go on their resumes except under the heading of Cringing Embarrassment.
From The Archives Issue 256: January 12, 1978