Monster’s Ball (2001)

logoDirector: Marc Forster

Writer: Milo Addica, Will Rokos (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Mos Def, Sean Combs


Plot: 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.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful Drama

Story: Monster’s Ball starts by introducing us to Hank Grotowski (Thornton) who seems to be a friendly man around town, he has a son Sonny (Ledger) who enjoys his drink and prostitutes and also lives with his father Buck (Boyle). Buck has raised Hank to be racist against blacks including chasing them off his property. Hank is a prison guard and has got his son a job there too where he is teaching the ways of the system after personal mistakes.

We see that the prison is preparing for the execution of Lawrence Musgrove (Combs), we see how Lawrence is having his final visit with his family Leticia (Berry) and his son Tyrell. Promised one final phone call to his son Lawrence has this taken away from him by the warden and it is up to Hank and Sonny to look after Lawrence for his final hours. The execution itself goes through correctly the final walk doesn’t go as plan because of Sonny.

This failure leads to a domestic fight between Hank and Sonny before the next morning Sonny confronts Hank before killing himself. After this personal tragedy Hank quits his job leading to him to have his father look down on him but when he is trying to figure out what to do he finds Leticia on the side of the road with her son seriously injured after being hit by a car. For this first time Hank stops to help a black person showing that he is starting to change but it is too for the boy who dies because of the injuries.

Hank and Leticia both have suffered the loss of a child that they both were too strict which leads them both to have a common issue in their lives. It isn’t long before the two become friends and romantically involved, but things take a turn when they learn about the original connection they had in the past.

Monster’s Ball was a film that got all of the Oscar talk and then only managed to get a few nominations, it does tell a very powerful story about loss and moving on which comes off very well. It shows how a potential negative upbringing can make you make the same mistakes and that you will need to change before it is too late. The film also shows how a racial opinion can continue down through a generation without properly seeing the problem. I will say the story won’t be for everyone but it is one of the most powerful. (8/10)


Actor Review

Billy Bob Thornton: Hank Grotowski a good prison guard who has been raised to be racist but hides it for the most part, but when it comes out we see his true colours. Hank also has problems with his own son who he has been trying to help clean up his act but his strictness leads to tragedy. After his own tragedy he gets involved with Leticia who is also struggling with her own loss. Billy gives a great performance. (8/10)


Halle Berry: Leticia Musgrove whose husband in on death row and her child is overweight, but after her husband’s execution she wants to continue her life. Tragedy strikes again in her life when her son is hit by a car and dies leading to her getting a helping hand of Hank. Halle gives an Oscar winning performance here and shows why she got the award. (10/10)

Heath Ledger: Sonny Grotowski son of Hank who has had problems before but is trying to turn his life around. When things don’t go as Hank played he ends up making a point before killing himself. Heath gives a solid supporting performance and showed how good he was in his short time on screen. (7/10)


Support Cast: Monster’s Ball has a supporting cast that all have different opinions on the situation of the world, we see the racist father, the locked up prisoner or fellow victims of the racism. Each member helps the final story unfold.

Director Review: Marc Forster – Marc does a good job directing this powerful drama putting out characters through a full range of emotions. (8/10)


Drama: Monster’s Ball is very powerful putting the characters through some tough moments in their lives. (9/10)

Romance: Monster’s Ball has an almost awkward romantic angle that helps change both the characters lives. (8/10)

Settings: Monster’s Ball uses the settings well to show the difference in living class of the two main characters. (9/10)

Suggestion: Monster’s Ball is one to try, it might not be for everyone but the ones who do watch it will find it very powerful. (Try It)


Best Part: Seeing the change in Hank over the course of the film.

Worst Part: Very depressing film.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars and winning Best Actress.

Box Office: $45 Million

Budget: $4 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.


Overall: Monster’s Ball is a very powerful film that deserved the praise it got.

Rating 85

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