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Monster's Ball (DVD)
Member Name: sy2kgbr
Monster's Ball (DVD)
Date: 12/07/02, updated on 12/07/02 (2539 review reads)
Advantages: Fabulous acting.
Disadvantages: Heavy themes involved.
Although it was released last November in the States and in March its leading actress picked up an Oscar for her appearance in it, "Monster's Ball" has only been on our screens for just under two months.
PLOT (AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS!;D)
In the film we are introduced to two different worlds with very distinct boundaries that gradually become blurred. The first is that of corrections officer Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton), a man whose job involves leading the condemned to their executions. His father Buck (Peter Boyle) also worked on death row, and while the two do not have a particularly close relationship, Hank initially seems to be trying to please him. He's following in his father's footsteps and mimics his father's heavily racist behaviour.
Sonny Grotowski (Heath Ledger) is also trying to please his father, who in this case is Hank. Sonny's also ended up a corrections officer, even though the job seems to be too difficult for him emotionally. His life appears to be very empty. We see little evidence of him doing anything other than carrying out a job he hates and spending money on prostitutes.
In the same way that Buck does not have a good relationship with his son, Hank and Sonny do not get on. Hank claims to hate his son, who despite everything cares for him.
The second world belongs to Leticia Musgrove. She's a black woman struggling to cope with losing her house, losing her husband and looking after their overweight son, Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun). For the past eleven years, her husband Lawrence (Sean Combs) has been on death row and is now finally about to be killed. She's stayed with him, mainly because of her son. Whatever love she had for him is gone and all she feels now is tired.
Both Hank and Leticia suffer a personal tragedy and despite the apparent
racism that exists for Hank, the two become friends. Eventually their relationship deepens and they become lovers.
"Monster's Ball" deals with some very heavy themes. Racism, violence, and abuse all feature, and explicit sex scenes are also there. It's rated 15 over here in the UK, which means a significant number of 14-year-olds will end up seeing it. It's maybe not that suitable for them because of the themes previously mentioned, but you know they'll see the film anyway.
It's easy to see why Halle Berry picked up her Oscar for her appearance. In fact, all the actors who feature, put on very credible performances. I'm including Sean Combs in this, or P Diddy as he now likes to be known. If you haven't seen the film yet, you may wonder about the acting skills of a rap star, but he's actually very good in his role as a condemned man.
Speaking of people from music crowd, Mos Def also puts in a appearance as a black man unafraid to stand up for himself and his children in an area where racism is rife.
Apparently the main sex scene is longer in the UK version than the American one. Sex sells and in used in many films, but here it actually can be justified. In the words of Halle Berry, it's "the pivotal vital part of the movie".
"Monster's Ball" is probably not everyone's type of film, but if the genre appeals and you feel comfortable sitting through scenes of suicide and naked Halle Berrys, then go see.
By the way, in case you're wondering... Monster's Ball is the term given to a condemned prisoner's last night on earth. I'm pretty sure Billy Bob Thornton refers to it somewhere near the start of the film. Unlike the Dooyoo "similiar products" link would have you believe, it's got absolutely no connection with "Monster
's Inc" ;) Which is a fab film in itself.
http://www.monstersballthefilm.com - The official site. Uses flash. Has pictures, cast info and a message board amongst other things.
http://www.oscar.com/oscarnight/winners/winner _actress.html - Halle Berry's transcribed acceptance speech.