Monster's Ball (2001)
USA / English
"A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.
"After a family tragedy, a racist prison guard reexamines his attitudes while falling in love with the African American wife of the last prisoner he executed.
"Monster's Ball" is presented by Director Marc Forster as a dark,
dreary film-noir like drama involving the role of fate in bringing
together two different but distraught people from different races.
The film opens as preparations are underway for the execution of
Lawrence Musgrave (Sean Combs). Two of the prison guards are Hank
(Billy Bob Thornton) and his son Sonny (Heath Ledger). Musgrave's wife
Leticia (Halle Berry) and his obese son Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun) have
come to see Musgrave to say their final goodbyes. Hank and Sonny live
with the bigoted Buck who is Hank's father and who was also a prison
guard. We learn that Buck has apparently bullied Hank all his life and
now Hank is doing likewise to Sonny.
Following the execution, two tragic but unrelated events occur in the
lives of Hank and Leticia. Hank, fighting off the predjudices taught
him by his father, begins to fall for Leticia and eventually an
inter-racial relationship ensues. But what if she finds out that Hank
had a part in executing her husband?
Berry deservedly won the 2001 Academy Award as best actress for her
role as the tragic Leticia. She displays a wide range of emotions from
pity to sadness to dispare to ecstacy to happiness. Thornton is equally
good as the similarly tragic Hank who goes through much of the same
emotional changes. Peter Boyle is also excellent as the bigoted Buck.
Ledger, in an all too brief role, shines as the son who really doesn't
want to follow in his father's footsteps. Calhoun evokes pity and
sorrow as Leticia's son and the old Puffmeister, Combs gives a good low
key performance as the doomed convict.
An excellent film but be forewarned that there are a couple of graphic
sex scenes in the movie. Definitely not for the kiddies.
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