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Monster's Ball (2001)

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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.

Director:

Marc Forster
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Popularity
1,711 ( 329)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 22 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 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El pasado nos condena See more »

Filming Locations:

Laplace, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$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 IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

(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 »

Quotes

Hank Grotowski: Let's get this over quick.
Minister: is there a passage you'd like me to read?
Hank Grotowski: No, all I wanna hear is dirt hit that box.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The Australian DVD release is the uncut version which carries a label saying "explicit version: not seen in cinemas" See more »

Connections

Referenced in Let Camel Ring (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden
(1968)
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
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A harrowing, daring film. One of the year's best. **** (out of four)
3 February 2002 | by Movie-12See all my reviews

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.


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