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Monster's Ball (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 March 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 68,917 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 517 user | 153 critic | 32 from

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 15 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pasado nos condena  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


£2,267,433 (UK) (19 July 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry' and Heath Ledger; and two Oscar nominees: Milo Addica and Will Rokos. See more »


(at around 1h 3 mins) Hank mentions to Leticia that he bought Clement's on Prospect Street. In the preceding scene however, Hank is seen looking at the same gas station with the entrance door displaying "1049 East Arlene Hwy". See more »


Hank Grotowski: I wanna take care of you.
Leticia Musgrove: Good. Cuz' I need to be taken care of.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden
Performed by Lynn Anderson
Written by Joe South
Published by Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI)
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Outstanding Performances!
17 June 2002 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"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.

24 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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'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
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What's the significance of the three tombstones? p-chandarana
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