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Monster's Ball (2001)

R | | Drama, Romance | 1 March 2002 (USA)
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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.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Taylor Simpson ...
Lucille
Gabrielle Witcher ...
Betty
...
Amber Rules ...
Vera
...
Charles Cowan Jr. ...
Willie Cooper
Taylor LaGrange ...
Darryl Cooper
...
Ryrus Cooper (as Mos Def)
Anthony Bean ...
Dappa Smith
...
Georgia Ann Paynes
...
Harvey Shoonmaker
...
Phil Huggins
...
Tommy Roulaine
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Storyline

Set in the Southern United States, 'Monster's Ball' is a tale of a racist white man, Hank, who falls in love with a black woman named Leticia. Ironically Hank is a prison guard working on Death Row who executed Leticia's husband. Hank and Leticia's interracial affair leads to confusion and new ideas for the two unlikely lovers. Written by Anna <annachan@amazon.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, language and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pasado nos condena  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$133,208 (USA) (4 January 2002)

Gross:

$31,252,964 (USA) (31 May 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 2009 interview with Monster's Ball producer Lee Daniels, he revealed that Wes Bentley did not actually turn down the role of Sonny Grotowski, as was reported at the time. What actually happened was that Bentley committed to the role but then pulled out at the very last minute, and Lionsgate gave them only 48 hours to find a replacement (who turned out to be Heath Ledger). In 2010, Bentley admitted that his erratic, unpredictable, and unreliable behavior throughout much of the 2000s had been caused by a longstanding addiction to heroin. See more »

Goofs

Credits list special thanks to Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Georgia (not Louisiana). See more »

Quotes

Leticia Musgrove: Make me feel good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to Sam, Austin, Gabrielle. Scott Lambert is thanked twice. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.21 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

I Couldn't Love You (More Than I Do Now)
Performed by Jean Wells
Written by Jean Wells
Published by IZA Music Corporation (BMI)
Courtesy of Sugarooi
Licensed by The Clyde Otis Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A harrowing, daring film. One of the year's best. **** (out of four)

MONSTER'S BALL / (2001) **** (out of four)

When I finish reading a great book, I don't close it right away. Treasuring the story's emotional grasp, I just sit there and hold it for a minute, enthralled, sensing the character's lives are continuing even as I put the book away.

"Monster's Ball" is a similar experience. The film contains so much truth, vigor, and so many harrowing moments, I just stared at the screen through the ending credits. Even after a second viewing the conviction did not diminish. It really says something about a movie when you know what happens and you're equally as mesmerized every time you watch it.

Most movies about depravity are really about entertainment, but director Marc Forster avoids preachy speeches, big sappy moments, and melodramatic music. Even during the movie's most important scenes, Forster does not overplay the material. He knows that careful, quiet dialogue, and long, silent pauses speak louder than lengthy emotional summaries.

Consider a scene where a character checks his father into an old folk's home. It does not feature long good-byes or conclusive hugs. Instead, it projects unflinching, raw emotion. "You must love him very much," reassures an attendant to the character who replies, "No I don't, but he is my father…"

The character, Hank, is played by Billy Bob Thornton, who makes his Academy Award-winning performance in "Sling Blade" look like SNL material. Hank, bitter and racist, lives in a Southern country house with his son, Sonny (Heath Ledger), and father (Peter Boyle).

Hank and Sonny work as prison guards on death row. Sonny desperately wants out of the family business, especially after an unpleasant emotional reaction to the latest execution. When Hank explodes at him for his mistake, Sonny teaches his father a lesson he will never forget.

The film eventually becomes a story about the relationship between Hank and the widow of the man he has just executed. She's played by Halle Barry, who was paid an extra one-million dollars for doing an extended sex scene completely nude. This is a gradual, yet sudden relationship that is not based on physical attraction or love, but emotional need and depravity.

Forster makes interesting editing choices. During certain scenes, he cuts back and forth between separate occurrences while the central action fills the soundtrack. Especially unique is how he handles a sex scene. While two characters engage in some of the most graphic stimulated sex of last year, Forster flashes images of a caged bird before us. A metaphor of shattered innocence or repressed emotion, perhaps?

Actually, Forster fills "Monster's Ball" with metaphors, including the title itself. He even includes a moving soundtrack of timid rhythms and sudden beats, symbolizing the characters complex states of mind. Forster's haunting, daring feature reminds us why we all love the movies.


91 of 122 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The car accident scene was done poorly cartesianthought
'Cause I really need to be taken care of... HoorayforHolly
Executed for what bgfy26
Sex Scene chrisuis
The sex scene wasn't offensive in my opinion. Scarface8890
suicide bv-j
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