A hard-hitting southern drama tempered by a story of powerful life-changing love. It is the story of hank an embittered prison guard working on death row who begins an unlikely but emotionally charged affair with leticia t... more »he wife of a man under his watch on the row. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 09/14/2004 Starring: Halle Berry Billy Bob Thornton Run time: 112 minutes Rating: Ur« less
"Billy Bob Thornton already has a fine movie to his credit for the 2001 film season, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE. He stars in MONSTER'S BALL, a film that may possibly vie with IN THE BEDROOM for multiple Oscars.Here, Thornton plays Hank Grotowski, a senior corrections officer at a prison ostensibly placed in Georgia. Hank supervises a team of officers, which includes his son Sonny (Heath Ledger), and which is assigned to carry out the electric chair execution of a black convict. (Incidentally, a "monster's ball" is defined as the party thrown for a prison guard before he attends at his first execution.) Living with Hank at home is his aging, physically debilitated and venomously racist father, Buck (Peter Boyle), formerly a prison guard also.The wife of the man to be executed is Leticia, played by Halle Berry. She's gamely trying to pay the rent and keep the car running by working as a waitress, and is raising an overweight son whom she sharply disciplines in an attempt to get him to stop eating everything in sight. (Leticia is convinced that fat, black men don't have a chance in America.)Both Hank and Leticia are leading separate lives of quiet - and sometimes not so quiet - desperation, each being psychologically and emotionally dragged under by circumstances and taxing personal relationships. Then, in a series of traumatic events over a short period of time, each is cut free of burdens and left, through serendipitous accident, with only each other. MONSTER'S BALL contains several volatile scenes of emotions on the rawest of edges, and which will keep the viewer riveted. Thornton and Berry both give exemplary performances as two people in unlikely company coming to grip with personal demons. As fair warning to the sensitive, the film incorporates episodes of intense sexuality.Thornton has become one of my favorite actors, and this is the first time I've seen Berry in any role. I liked this movie very much, and would be hard pressed to choose between it and IN THE BEDROOM for this year's Best Picture Academy Award."
Excellent performances in a throught provoking film
Nancy R. Katz | NJ | 12/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Monster's Ball is one of those rare movies which come along and envelops the viewer. The cast alone which includes Billy Bob Thornton, Peter Boyle, Heath Ledger and Halle Berry are cause enough to see the movie but the plot and outcome are further reason to see this fine film and applaud all associated with this movie. While the subject matter at times is rather grim and one may close their eyes for certain scenes, one leaves the theater feeling that this was time well spent.Billy Bob Thornton plays the son of a law enforcement officer and the father of a young man, also a law enforcement officer. He comes from a long line of bigoted men which is evident when two young black brothers want to hang out with Thornton's 20 something son. In addition to Thornton not liking blacks he doesn't seem to like his son too much either. Central to the movies plot is the execution of a black man. As Thornton and the other correction officers including his son prepare this man and then witness the execution, the viewer is likely to think this might be the end of Thornton's involvement with the executed man. But the execution has serious reprecussions on Thorntons life as a tragedy befalls him and he then meets the executed mans widow. And as they begin a rather unusual relationship you as the viewer are held mesmerized by the events unfolding on the screen.There are parts of this movie which are truly painful to watch
and at times the viewer may find themselves overwhelmingly uncomfortable. But these feelings only further heighten the movies effect as one feels as though they are witnessing real life instead of a story. The performances are wonderful and one leaves the theater with a great deal to think about for some time. Even the title is a good choice as monster's ball was the term used in England for the party which was held the night before an execution.Do see this movie!"
Love Among The Ruins
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 01/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Marc Forster's "Monster's Ball" contains a host of horrific deeds and actions in its' first 40 minutes...so many in fact, I almost walked out of the theater: child abuse, attempted patricide, suicide, public execution, racial hatred to name several. I felt like yelling at the screen: ENOUGH ALREADY! But a morbid fascination with where this movie was going made me stay in my seat, mouth open...and I can honestly say that ultimately "Monster's Ball" proved to be worth my time and effort.
But,the big question here is: why show so much negativity? Does so much downbeat material make for an uplifting, or more importantly interesting movie experience? Does: "I'm so down...it looks like up to me" apply here? Why have your main character,Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) exhibit such self-loathing and hatred and thereby making him unpalatable as a hero? And ultimately does Hank's metamorphosis into a loving person make sense?
I don't have all the answers but I certainly do have impressions and can attest to the cumulative power of the images presented. Hanks's conversion from bigot to loving, caring human being and Leticia's (Halle Berry)lover doesn't make logical sense but we are rooting for "them" to work and so when it does we believe it. Hank and Leticia are two lost souls, at the end of their psychic ropes, whose only hope for survival is each other. And so they cling and they claw and they gravitate towards each other as only the desperate are wont to do. As Leticia says to Hank in as heartbreaking a way as possible, and after years of being tread upon and beaten down: "I need you to take care of me."
Much has been said of Halle Berry's performance and it is a wonder: frustrated, down-and-out, sexually repressed, needy, tired and worn out but always exhibiting the smallest kernel of hope. Billy Bob Thornton wakes up from his zombie-like performance in "The Man Who Wasn't There" and makes Hank a living breathing character...fantastically flawed yet seemingly capable of turning his life around.
"Monster's Ball" will be a hard watch for many people and it's flaws might be enough to turn people off but ultimately it is a profoundly even perversely powerful film...not for everyone but for the few who can appreciate the redemptive power of LOVE."
Who Was The Hooker?
WILLIE A YOUNG II | Houston, TX. | 05/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have no quibbles whatsoever about this film, it's characters, acting, content, realism or any of the other silly little comments that everyone else is making. I'm a man, from the South so there's a little bit of Hank in me. I'm also a diagnosed manic depressive, so I understand Letitia's emotional hurt and explosive outbursts (sexual or otherwise) I'm also Black, so understanding and having sympathy for the Black characters and relating to it's racial issues was no stretch for me, I just want to know who is the Blonde Goddess playing the detached hooker in the hotel? When Hank tells her after an attempted tryst to "just keep that money" her reply of "I'm gon' to" just cracked me up! Don't make this movie more than it is people, it's a brilliant character study that reveals not only what can, but often DOES happen in real life when unusual circumstances bring people together. P. S. Halle Berry is volcanic, she deserved that Oscar."
A Tight and Intelligent Script with Strong Performances
Ibochild | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard the basic plot of MONSTER'S BALL, I was very intrigued, but skeptical. Watching the movie, I dreaded throughout that the filmmaker's were going to play things out in an obvious and predictable way. How refreshing it was to discover that they didn't.Instead, I saw a tight, economical script with an amazing performance by Halle Berry. Undoubtedly, people will nit-pick about Berry's work in the film, but beat by beat, her Leticia was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging roles of the year. For the most part, she was up to the task and clearly demonstrated that she's a serious actress. One can debate whether or not she deserved an Oscar for her work, but she definitely gave an Oscar calibre performance.Billy Bob Thornton was also deserving of an Academy Award nomination (although he didn't receive one) for his complex role as Hank. He played it honestly and fearlessly. Also of note was Mos Def's performance in the film. It was finely shaded and understated. He's definitely an actor to watch.However, despite these and other fine performanes in the film (Peter Boyle is another example), what really impressed me about this film was its script. All too often, writers seem compelled to explain every detail about a character, so that the audience "gets it." Fortunately, with MONSTER'S BALL, the writers assume that the audience has some level of intelligence. In this film, one gets more with just a look on a character's face than would be accomplished in ten pages of expositional dialog. The screenplay deservedly was nominated for both an Oscar as well as an Independent Spirit Award.Another thing that was refreshing about this film was that it didn't shy away from its controversial subject matter. It deals with issues of class, race, sexuality and relationships with an honesty that most filmmakers shy away from today. This of course will not sit well with the easily offended or those that refuse to believe that racism still exists in America. Given the casting of Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton in the key roles, some may not accept that the characters they played could get together romantically. Like it or not, relationships like this can and do exist and will continue to do so. If you get anything out of the film, it should be that relationships in general are spontaneous, unpredictable and often defy logic.Overall, MONSTER'S BALL is a challenging film that is often difficult to watch (and not always for the obvious reasons). If you're looking for a film that forces one to confront what we fear in ourselves, this one is it."