Monster's Ball


Time Out says

Leticia Musgrove (Berry) is the wife of a Death Row inmate (Combs) and mother of a troubled obese teenager. Hank Grotowski (Thornton) works, like his retired father Buck (Boyle) and his own boy Sonny (Ledger), as a guard at the pen, proudly professional to the bitter end. Leticia is imprisoned by hardship and disappointment, Hank by the steely reserve required for his job and by a disciplinarian machismo inherited from a racist dad. What brings them together is chance; what they have in common is death, pain, rage, loneliness. You'd expect this cast to produce fine performances, and Berry and Billy Bob are merely the laurel-stealing protagonists. Praiseworthy too is Schaefer's 'Scope camerawork and Addica and Rokos' tough but sensitive script. Director Forster doesn't hurry things; a hell of a lot happens before the leads meet, and even then it's not cute. Violence (familial and institutional), deep-seated distrust and hatred (this is the South) cast long shadows, and an electric-chair scene ensures we remember love's seldom simple. At the same time, Berry and Thornton play so well that the pitfalls of miserabilist chic are mostly avoided: hope is always felt as a presence or possibility. If certain heavier-handed sequences don't quite gel, the (un-Hollywood) ending is nevertheless perfectly judged, persuasive and unusually graceful.

By: GA


Release details

111 mins

Cast and crew

Marc Forster
Milo Addica, Will Rokos
Billy Bob Thornton
Halle Berry
Peter Boyle
Heath Ledger
Sean Combs
Mos Def
Coronji Calhoun
Taylor Simpson
Gabrielle Witcher
Amber Rules
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