7.0/10
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Monster's Ball (2001)

R | | Drama, Romance | 1 March 2002 (USA)
Trailer
1:32 | Trailer
After a family tragedy, a racist prison guard re-examines his attitudes while falling in love with the African-American wife of the last prisoner he executed.

Director:

Marc Forster
Reviews
Popularity
2,648 ( 73)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Hank Grotowski
Taylor Simpson Taylor Simpson ... Lucille
Gabrielle Witcher Gabrielle Witcher ... Betty
Heath Ledger ... Sonny Grotowski
Amber Rules Amber Rules ... Vera
Peter Boyle ... Buck Grotowski
Charles Cowan Jr. Charles Cowan Jr. ... Willie Cooper
Taylor LaGrange Taylor LaGrange ... Darryl Cooper
Yasiin Bey ... Ryrus Cooper (as Mos Def)
Anthony Bean Anthony Bean ... Dappa Smith
Francine Segal ... Georgia Ann Paynes
John McConnell ... Harvey Shoonmaker
Marcus Lyle Brown ... Phil Huggins
Milo Addica ... Tommy Roulaine
Leah Loftin ... Booter
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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:

View content advisory »
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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

When Hank goes to clean up the backseat of his car, two cameramen are reflected in the back window of his Ford Crown Victoria. See more »

Quotes

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

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

Alternate Versions

The initial cut of the picture included more explicit footage during the sex scene between Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton, which was trimmed down after the MPAA threatened to give the film a NC-17 rating. The uncut version premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on February 8, 2001. The R-rated US theatrical release is the cut version; the version released theatrically in Canada and most other countries is the uncut version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in First Viewing: X-Men (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Broken Up and Blue
(1998)
Performed by Red Meat
Written by Jill Olson
Published by Olson Girl Publishing (ASCAP)
Administered by Bug Music, Inc.
Courtesy of Ranchero Records
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User Reviews

 
Halle Berry's shining moment
27 July 2002 | by FlickJunkie-2See all my reviews

Independent filmmaking is alive and well and evident in Monster's Ball. This film had a minuscule $4 million budget, a terrific script and a director not afraid to take some risks. Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry practically donated their time they were paid so little. The result is a powerful and disturbing film that walked off with a boatload of awards, not the least of which was a best actress Oscar for Berry.

Director Marc Forster conjures a forceful presentation with stark sets, next to nothing in the way of props and other set decoration, and a non existent soundtrack. Forster does it with innovative use of the camera, sharp editing and most importantly excellent actor direction. Forster could have done better at character development and the ending is nebulous and unsatisfying, but these shortcomings can be partially forgiven for the films many assets.

This is an actors' showcase, with outstanding performances all around. Heath Ledger makes a short but intense appearance as the son that Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) despises. Ledger pumps the character full of repressed anger and disappointment, simultaneously resenting him and seeking his father's approval. Peter Boyle is despicable as Hank's bigoted and self centered father. Billy Bob Thornton delivers his best performance since `Sling Blade' with a complex character torn between his prejudices and his attraction to Leticia (Halle Berry).

Of course the big story here is Halle Berry. Berry shows once again that she is not just another pretty face. I first took serious notice of her after seeing her performance in `Introducing Dorothy Dandridge', a little seen TV movie in which she won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy. After that marvelous dramatic performance, I was surprised that she couldn't land roles any better than `Swordfish' and `X-Men', which tapped nothing more substantial than her looks.

In this film, Berry is sexy and alluring, but these are only incidental attributes. She displays a full range of emotions from vibrant elation and unbridled passion, to utter despondency. She practically rips her heart out and throws it at the camera. She can convey volumes with a single look, or come completely unglued with equal impact. Her Oscar for this performance was richly deserved and had nothing to do with her race as so many have rationalized. She just flat out won it going away. As good as Nicole Kidman was in `Moulin Rouge', it wasn't even close.

This is an excellent film that is worth seeing for the acting alone. I rated it a 9/10. It is a compelling and deeply disturbing drama that serious film lovers will surely enjoy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Monster's Ball See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$110,552, 30 December 2001

Gross USA:

$31,273,922

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$45,011,434
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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