Monster's Ball

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Monsters Ball
Monsterspub1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Marc Forster
Produced by Lee Daniels
Written by Milo Addica
Will Rokos
Starring Billy Bob Thornton
Halle Berry
Heath Ledger
Peter Boyle
Sean Combs
Music by Asche and Spencer
Cinematography Roberto Schaefer
Editing by Matt Chesse
Studio Lee Daniels Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • November 11, 2001 (2001-11-11) (AFI Fest)
  • February 8, 2002 (2002-02-08)
Running time 111 minutes
112 minutes (Unrated)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million
Box office $44,909,486

Monster's Ball is a 2001 American romantic drama film directed by German-Swiss director Marc Forster starring Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton and Heath Ledger. The film tells the story of a poor Southern woman who falls for a widowed prison-guard after the execution of her husband.

Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Plot[edit]

Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton), a widower, and his son, Sonny (Heath Ledger), are corrections officers in a Georgia State Prison. They reside in Jackson with Hank's ailing father, Buck (Peter Boyle), a racist whose wife committed suicide.

Hank as a deputy warden oversees the execution of convicted murderer Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs). The proceedings prove too intense for Sonny, who begins to vomit and then collapses as he is leading Lawrence to the electric chair. Hank beats up Sonny in the jail's bathroom afterwards for being so "soft" and ruining a man's last walk. At home, Hank attacks Sonny in his bed and tells him to get out of the house. Sonny grabs a gun, and threatens his dad, who backs off. The confrontation ends in their living room with Hank at gunpoint, lying on the carpet, and Sonny in Buck's customary chair. Sonny asks his father if he hates him. After his father calmly confirms that he does and always has, Sonny responds, "Well, I always loved you," and then shoots himself in the heart. Hank subsequently buries Sonny in the back garden with no real funeral, as Buck says, "He was weak." Hank subsequently quits his job, burns his uniform in the backyard, and locks the door of Sonny's room.

During the years of Lawrence's imprisonment, his wife, Leticia (Halle Berry), has been struggling while raising their son, Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun), who has inherited his father's artistic talent. She goads the boy to the point of abuse over his obesity. Along with her domestic problems, Leticia struggles financially, leading to the loss of the family car and, worse, an eviction notice on her house. In desperate need of money, Leticia takes a job at a diner frequented by Hank. One rainy night, Leticia and Tyrell are walking down a soaked highway when Tyrell is struck by a car. Hank happens to be driving along and sees Leticia and Tyrell. After some hesitation, he picks Leticia and Tyrell up, and takes them to a hospital, but Tyrell dies upon arrival. At the suggestion of the authorities at the hospital, he drives her home. A few days later, Hank gives Leticia a ride home from the diner. They begin talking in the car about their common losses, and she invites him in. Hank finds out that Leticia is Lawrence's widow, though he does not tell her that he participated in her husband's execution. They drown their grief with alcohol and, in a particularly raw and graphic display, have sex as Leticia repeatedly mumbles "Make me feel good!".

Leticia stops by Hank's home with a present for him, but finds that he is out. She meets Buck, who insults her and implies that Hank is only involved with her because he wants to have sex with a black woman. Leticia is hurt and refuses to interact with Hank, so that incident proves to be the last straw for Hank and he decides to send his father to a nursing home. Leticia is evicted from her home for non-payment of rent and Hank invites her to move in with him. She later discovers Hank's involvement in her husband's death when she finds a drawing of Hank done by Lawrence before his death. She erupts, but is there waiting for him when he returns from town with ice cream. The film ends with the two of them eating ice cream together on the back porch, content with each other.

Cast[edit]

Development[edit]

Louisiana State Penitentiary served as a filming location.

The film was produced by Lionsgate and Lee Daniels Entertainment.

Reception[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews. Review website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 120 of the 141 reviews they tallied were positive. This resulted in a score of 85% and a certification of "Fresh".[1]

Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and stated that, "The movie has the complexity of great fiction"[2] listing it as the best film of 2001.

Awards[edit]

  • Academy Awards
    • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Halle Berry (Winner)
    • Best Original Screenplay: Milo Addica & Will Rokos (Nominated)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Monster's Ball Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  2. ^ "Monster's Ball :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times (February 1, 2002). Retrieved March 27, 2011

External links[edit]