Lions Gate Films | Release Date: December 26, 2001
3.8
USER SCORE
Generally unfavorable reviews based on 94 Ratings
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Mixed:
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Negative:
46
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8
GREEK-GODJan 8, 2018
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Monster's Ball wasn't made with a big budget by some very well known director. And to make things "worse", it's controversial as well because the story isn't exactly about a family living together happy with more money than there is water in the sea. And they weren't afraid to put a lot of racism in it, which was necessary to make this movie believable, but for some "politically correct" people, already reasons enough to say they didn't like it.

The movie tells us the story of Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton), a racist white prison guard who works on Death Row and Leticia Musgrove (Halle Berry), a black woman whose husband is about to be executed. Hank lives with his father and his son, who he really hates, under the same roof. But when a tragedy takes his son away, he starts thinking about his ideas. In the mean while he has met Leticia, not knowing who she really is and soon they fall in love with each other. This is the start of a relationship based rather on desperation than on love.

Monster's ball doesn't use cheap Hollywood sentiment like you might expect from this kind of movies, but is sincere and very compelling. This is of course also thanks to excellent performances. Halle Berry got an Oscar for it, but what I don't understand is why Billy Bob Thornton wasn't even nominated. His character may not be as likable and no he isn't as good looking as Berry, but his performance certainly wasn't any less. In fact, the entire movie was more than just worth a watch. It's very nice to see that there still are unknown directors who can make good movies with a good story, some fine actors and a small budget. I really enjoyed it and that's why I give it an 8/10.
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5
SpangleJan 10, 2017
Monster's Ball is just an average film with excellent performances. While the acting can cover up many of its blemishes, the film crumbles into nothing but a safe Hollywood romance between two very different people who decide to solve racismMonster's Ball is just an average film with excellent performances. While the acting can cover up many of its blemishes, the film crumbles into nothing but a safe Hollywood romance between two very different people who decide to solve racism together. The first half of the film, however, is exceptional. Telling the story of a death row inmate who has seemingly been rehabilitated, but still must die, the first half is incredibly tragic. The second half is just a corrections officer stealing the dead guy's girl without ever telling her. A thoroughly Southern film, Monster's Ball is the both the best of times and the worst times with the final product being almost as tragic as the first half.

Pairing together corrections officer Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) with Leticia Musgrove (Halle Berry), Monster's Ball is largely a story about prejudice. Hank is mostly prejudiced himself, but nothing like his father Buck (Peter Boyle). His son, Sonny (Heath Ledger), is more open and is perceived as being soft by his father and grandfather. All corrections officers (though Buck is retired), Hank and Sonny must preside over the electrocution of Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs). A docile and rehabilitated man, this portion is tragic as we see him display his artistic talents and say goodbye to his wife and son. In many ways, director Marc Forster channels The Green Mile, which had come out two years prior. Also a parable about race, Forster merely discards the magical negro angle and the innocent messenger of God portion. Instead, he opts for a realistic and gritty portrayal of electrocution without any of the Hollywoodized elements. For this, Monster's Ball is terrifically rewarding in the first half. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs shocked me in this film with a terrifically reserved and emotional performance. Trying to put on a tough face while coping with the incredible turmoil of knowing you are set to die, his performance as Lawrence steals the film. It is a shame he has not really been given more chances to act in better films, because he truly nails this role.

This first half also begins to introduce us to Leticia and her relationship with her son. Obese for his age, Leticia is meticulous in trying to get him to lose weight, but he cannot help himself from eating. Obviously torn apart by the death of Lawrence, Berry does a tremendous job in the first half and when with her son. Down on her luck with a busted car and nearing eviction from her home, Berry plays a woman without much. She gets less when even more tragic occurrences arise, but throughout Berry is terrific. Emotionally raw, yet distant, she turns in a truly somber performance that earned her an Oscar and rightfully so. However, unfortunately for Berry, the film gets worse when she is on screen more as it means it is time for the bad romance between her and Hank. Beginning to have sex with her when she is emotionally distraught to concealing that he was a corrections officer when Lawrence died, this relationship is always doomed. Of course, the film ends with her knowing and him never mentioning a thing. For many, this may be realistic and authentic with how their relationship is more important than one element, but this one element is pretty big. It is not like Hank could have stopped the execution, but is it not common courtesy to let somebody know you saw their husband die before you begin sleeping with them? Seems like the right thing to do, but Forster's romance is so half-baked and emotionally exploitative, this is hardly the only issue with the second half. Even worse, the second half is incredibly dull. After an intense and emotional first half, the second half resorts to a long and drawn out sex scene that adds nothing to the film and Hank jumping the gun repeatedly in a relationship that is doomed to fail (declaring she is his girlfriend, kicking his racist dad out of the house, and naming his gas station after her). This romance is supposed to be subtle and authentic, but just feels like watching paint dry.

A mixed bag, the first half of Monster's Ball is excellent. If only that could have been the whole film though, as the second half moves at a snail's pace and sort of just dies at the end. Though the acting is excellent - particularly by Halle Berry, Sean Combs, and the always magnificent Peter Boyle - the film's second half just feels too convenient and without any sort of emotional pay-off. It just lingers and drags until Forster feels the film is long enough to mercifully end it all.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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5
KrissTolliday14Oct 7, 2016
Bleak and depressing which doesn't make for an overly enjoyable film. The performances are touted as the standout of the piece and it's hard to not say that if it wasn't for them this film wouldn't be worth watching at all. The casting teamBleak and depressing which doesn't make for an overly enjoyable film. The performances are touted as the standout of the piece and it's hard to not say that if it wasn't for them this film wouldn't be worth watching at all. The casting team really take the credit for any high scores the film receives. The performances are top notch individually however the chemistry between the leads is lacking. Their is little to believe in that these two would become a couple . Contrivance also plays a large part to how they meet. Whether this is to do with the writing or direction it is hard to say but although Thornton's performance is excellent (he is fast becoming one of my favourite chameleons), his character border on the line of stubborn hard nut to naive and feeble. This is obviously supposed to be the transformation but it feel unheralded. The inciting incident that instigates this journey is rushed, unmotivated and confusing which leaves a sour taste right from the off. The problems far outweigh anything else. Not enough Ledger, far too slow in places, too morbid, lack of explanation or pay-offs and a resolution that resolves little. Perhaps it is too close to how people live in that some people's lives are just tragic but as a piece of entertainment to watch on a Friday night it is the opposite of what you want to see. Few scenes strike a cord but not as highly as the performances warrant. Expand
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5
BroyaxJan 26, 2017
D'abord Billy Bob, excellent acteur, du charisme et une "gueule", voilà un gars doué pour incarner des personnages complexes, tiraillés par leurs contradictions intérieures et leurs démons. C'est le cas ici même s'il ne fait que suivre unD'abord Billy Bob, excellent acteur, du charisme et une "gueule", voilà un gars doué pour incarner des personnages complexes, tiraillés par leurs contradictions intérieures et leurs démons. C'est le cas ici même s'il ne fait que suivre un scénario bien propre sur lui, moralisateur et bon enfant mais il le fait bien, c'est son personnage. Donc le message est passé, le racisme c'est mal et tant pis pour le réalisme (vivre ensemble, tout ça).

Ensuite, Halle Berry la bien foutue, oscarisée... oscarisée ? on se demande bien pourquoi ? allons, il faut raison garder, cesser de mater ses nichons et tout le reste, puis, à tête reposée, constater qu'elle ne sait pas jouer : un joli cul c'est très bien mais ça ne fait pas une actrice pour autant. Comparons-la à Sharon Stone dans Baisic instinct euh Basic instinct et force est de constater (encore) que Sharon sait jouer, elle.

Voilà, ça c'est fait. En ce qui concerne le film, habilement réalisé par ailleurs (belle musique soit dit en passant), le déferlement d'évènements dramatiques dont il abuse est invraisemblable même si, nous le savons, Victor Hugo a écrit Les misérables. Mais soit, on en rigole presque au troisième degré et le film reste regardable malgré Halle.
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4
bfoore90Mar 6, 2017
mediocre film that is more bleak and depressing than it is entertaining. While some of the performances make it watchable, this is one of those movies that for some reason got so much acclaim yet can't seem to carry the same weight as moviesmediocre film that is more bleak and depressing than it is entertaining. While some of the performances make it watchable, this is one of those movies that for some reason got so much acclaim yet can't seem to carry the same weight as movies that do. While some of the performances cover this film's safe yet convenient flaws, Monster's Ball still serves as a depressing and generally unremarkable film for its time. Expand
1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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9
BlakeJ.Mar 21, 2007
The most depressing movie I have ever seen, by far. Halle Berry's performance is mesmerizing. The scene in the hospital brings tears to my eyes, every time I watch it. For some reason, although it brings me down when I watch it, I watch The most depressing movie I have ever seen, by far. Halle Berry's performance is mesmerizing. The scene in the hospital brings tears to my eyes, every time I watch it. For some reason, although it brings me down when I watch it, I watch it several times a year. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
The3AcademySinsApr 17, 2018
Monster's Ball is a movie that suffers from bad writing and hit or miss directing, but is ultimately salvaged by some incredible acting performances; particularly on the parts of Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, and Billy Bob Thornton. The scriptMonster's Ball is a movie that suffers from bad writing and hit or miss directing, but is ultimately salvaged by some incredible acting performances; particularly on the parts of Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, and Billy Bob Thornton. The script is just all over the place in terms of tone. There is a very clear difference between the first hour and the second hour, and the main problem is that they do not go well together. Each half is almost a good movie when standing on it's own. In terms of direction, Monster's Ball sometimes takes on a mythic quality in terms of race relations in the United States, and in terms of people who are suffering from emotional trauma. The handling of this trauma is not done very well by the film, but the actors definitely do a good job interpreting how people really handle the trauma afterwards. Some shots and cinematography are quite incredible, particularly the legendary sex scene and the final shot of the film. The pacing also lags a bit in this movie, and it will be hard to pay attention. If you're a fan of incredible acting, I have no problem recommending Monster's Ball to you. Casual movie-goers will probably find this one hard to digest. Expand
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