Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. 100
    As for myself, as Leticia rejoined Hank in the last shot of the movie, I was thinking about her as deeply and urgently as about any movie character I can remember.
  2. 91
    It's a film in which complex issues are boiled down to human essences, not so much simplified as dramatized in the very best way.
  3. 90
    The actors make it unique and unforgettable.
  4. Hank is but the latest of Thornton's strikingly taciturn characters in a whole string of movies, but for Berry, Leticia represents a big-screen breakthrough.
  5. The raw intimacy of some of the scenes -- whether they take place at a diner, in the death house or in the bedroom -- is breathtaking.
  6. The movie holds you in thrall from first frame to last. Hatred is hatred unslaked. So is racism, ugliness, love, lust and sorrow.
  7. The movie's stroke of sheer genius is its wondrous ending.
  8. 88
    Profoundly hopeful and optimistic film.
  9. 88
    Packs a dramatic wallop that makes it one of the year's best movies.
  10. 88
    This is as anti-Hollywood a film as I have seen in recent months, one which takes conventional plot ideas and uses them not to season a melodrama, but to enrich fully three-dimensional characters and create a forceful motion picture.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    The cast is uniformly superb, and Marc Forster's attentive direction gives proper weight to each perplexing emotion. Strip away the strident melodrama, and you have this season's moodiest, most adult love story.
  12. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    80
    Burning with a quiet intensity, Monster's Ball is bolstered by a poetic, intelligent sensibility not seen in an American film since Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line."
  13. Well redeemed by its dank atmosphere and cracker-barrel performances.
  14. The kind of quiet, effective film that burrows under the viewer's skin and takes root before you've had a chance to realize that it's permeated your constitutional makeup.
  15. Its ethical and intellectual insights wane when the love story kicks in, weakening what might have been a much deeper movie. Still, its performances are wonderful to watch.
  16. Hate, love, bigotry, empathy and chance are the uninvited guests at Monster's Ball.
  17. Dark and beautifully directed melodrama about the strange intersection of racism and emotional need.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    The kind of film that could easily be undone by its own high-minded ambitions and dissolve in a pall of uplift. But it stays the course and gives the season two of its notable performances.
  19. The film has a lot of right in it, including an ending that's suitably uncertain, but fraught with possibilities.
  20. For all its darkness and tragedy, Monster's Ball is a film that wants to be liked and Forster stumbles over his good intentions to win the audience over.
  21. 70
    Berry delivers an extraordinary performance that will startle even her most faithful fans.
  22. Halle Berry is something else as Leticia Musgrove, the widow of an inmate who's just been executed by Hank and his crew, and that something else is commandingly passionate.
  23. 70
    A black waitress and a white corrections officer in rural Georgia experience more misery in the first hour of this movie than some people do in a lifetime, and to its credit the drama doesn’t collapse under the weight.
  24. A traffic map of calls and responses, lessons and homework, wishes and fulfillment. All roads lead to acting-award nominations, but none lead to truth.
  25. 63
    A serious movie made by seriously talented people, and I never quite came 'round to it.
  26. 60
    The film's elliptical character development sometimes renders the actors' work opaque; restraint is an underpracticed virtue, but even it can be taken to excess.
  27. This movie hyperventilates with pessimism to the point of perversity.
  28. 50
    Handled more delicately, Monster's Ball could have been a fine little movie about human beings' capacity for growth and change. As it is, it's less than half a fine movie. The great surprise is that its actors come through in the clutch.
  29. Wastes a ton of potent material.
  30. An arty sleepwalk. Thornton has developed a style of acting that goes beyond minimal into the near nonexistent.

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