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Monster's Ball (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 March 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 69,372 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 517 user | 152 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

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 & 21 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


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?


Angela Bassett purportedly turned down the role of Leticia, stating "I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film..." However, Lions Gate Production President Michael Paseornek and the film's producer Lee Daniels rebut Bassett stating that she was never even offered the role, and was already committed to another film. See more »


Throughout the movie there are conflicting references to its being set in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Georgia. See more »


Hank Grotowski: I went by our station on the way home... I like that sign. I think we're gonna be alright.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in At the Movies: Episode #7.1 (2010) See more »


License to Kill
(as "Licensed to Kill")
Performed by Bob Dylan
Written by Bob Dylan
Published by Special Rider Music (SESAC)
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Southern Gothic - dark and disturbing
13 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Monster's Ball is a compelling film of family conflict, rage and redemption. Halle Berry throws herself into this role like a prizefighter who leaves it all in the ring, and wins by unanimous decision. Billy Bob Thornton gives an electrifying performance as a man grappling with his demons and wanting his better self to emerge victorious.

This movie is a study in ambiguity. The characters are complex with human imperfection, no one (with the exception of Hank's father, played by Peter Boyle) emerging as completely likable or entirely bad. Hank's son played by Heath Ledger fulfills the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, and it's never clear that anyone truly gets whats coming to them.

I'm not sure one should read too much into this movie as a study of attitudes towards race in today's America, but as a portrayal of human frailty and the continuing quest for hope and optimism, Monster's Ball is a can't-miss film experience.

23 of 26 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
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