524 user 153 critic

Monster's Ball (2001)

R | | Drama, Romance | 1 March 2002 (USA)
1:31 | Trailer

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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.


2,850 ( 178)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
... Hank Grotowski
Taylor Simpson ... Lucille
Gabrielle Witcher ... Betty
... Sonny Grotowski
Amber Rules ... Vera
... Buck Grotowski
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
Leah Loftin ... Booter


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 USA:

$174,109, 30 December 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$31,252,964, 2 June 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As of 2018, Halle Berry's Oscar winning performance in this film is her only Academy Award nomination. See more »


Right before Leticia runs out of the house after meeting Buck, there is a shot in which Buck is speaking but his lips are not moving. See more »


Leticia Musgrove: Make me feel good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Jackass 3.5 (2011) See more »


Your Love Is My Rest
Performed by Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Written by John Hiatt
Published by Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc.
Courtesy of Rounder Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Truly powerful and beautiful
28 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

When I first heard that Halle Berry was getting publicity over a film called "Monster's Ball", a movie I had never even heard of, I was a little skeptical. I mean, come on, this is HALLE BERRY. The star of "B.A.P.S.". The actress who said "You know what happens to a toad when it gets hit by lightning? The same thing as what happens to everyone else," in "X-Men". I was not convinced. Then I saw the movie and my jaw dropped. Who knew Berry had this in her? A performance of emotion, range, and power, Berry's Leticia Musgrove redefined the actress' career and brought new meaning to the phrase "emotionally distraught". The film's plot, while fundamentally simple, hides layers of emotion and deep character analysis. Billy Bob Thorton is as strong as he's ever been as Hank Grotowski, a selfish and racist prison guard who lives with his vicious and hateful father, Buck (Peter Boyle), and his sweet and utterly decent son Sonny (Heath Ledger). Hank hates his father, who has ruined his life up to this point in time, and also says he hates his son, in who he sees the character traits he lost so long ago. Halle Berry is a deadbeat African-American mom of an overweight son (Coronji Calhoun) with a husband (Sean Combs) who is on Death Row. Unforseen tragic events bring these seemingly unmatchable people together, and their mutual hurt and sadness climaxes in one of the most powerful and emotional love scenes in film history. A common complaint I have with sex in the movies these days is that it doesn't ever seem to make sense with the story. This sex scene, however, is a perfect evolution of the story and is an extension of the two characters' mutual need to feel something other than grief. "Make me feel good" Berry cries in a mix of ecstasy and anguish. In another brilliant moment later in the film, Hank gives oral satisfaction to Leticia, but the moment is not uncomfortable or pointless because it illustrates Hank's devotion to this woman and how he is now wholly devoted to giving everything he has to this other person ("I've never done that before."). His act of rescuing her is his own redemption. "Monster's Ball" is a truly beautiful and effective film about redemption and the importance of our love for other human beings. The final shot, with Hank and Leticia on the front porch of Hank's house with a bowl of ice cream, is one of the most quietly poetic and effective endings I have ever seen, and Hank's final line is a perfect closer to a film about the ultimate redemptive quality of love-"I think we're gonna be alright."

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