Nowadays the film Monster’s Ball is probably best remembered for “the sex scene”. It involved
and Billy Bob Thornton and there was no Austin Powers like goofiness with
objects blocking our view (unlike many films with major stars in them). Both Halle Berry Berry
committed to the scene and the film.
Almost inevitably the scene was censored in the U.S. in order
to get an R rating, but was released as is around the rest of the planet. The thing is, there’s a lot more to this
movie than just a sex scene. In fact,
this is the film for which Berry
won the Best Actress Oscar.
On death row is Lawrence Musgrove (a miscast Sean Combs – yes, that Sean Combs). He’s the only real big flaw in the film. His character doesn’t last long, though. While taking him to be executed Sonny breaks down and can’t stand it. Hank berates him for being too sensitive. Everything comes to a head at home with Sonny confronting Hank with a gun, making him admit that he’s always hated his son. It should surprise no one that the too sensitive Sonny doesn’t have a happy ending.
Hank quits his job and starts hanging out at a diner. Who should happen to come in but Leticia (
widow. She has her son with her. While walking home from the diner one night
the son is struck by another vehicle.
Hank stops to help, but the son dies.
Hank and Leticia had spoken to each other before, but now with a common
loss (their sons) they bond. Eventually
it leads to the sex scene that so many people talked about afterwards.
Buck is livid that his son is dating a black woman and even tries to poison Leticia against Hank when the two meet. It’s also not long before Hank figures out Leticia is the widow of the last man he executed in prison. Think that will be a potential issue in their relationship? A Hallmark movie, this is not.
I’m now going to talk about the final scene in the film because of how it relates to Berry’s Oscar win, so if you haven’t watched the movie, you may want to skip down below this spoiler section.
I mentioned that
won the Best Actress Oscar
for this role. Part of that stems from
committing to the role and doing the unglamorous character with nudity, but I
believe it is mostly due to her final scene in the film. Halle
Her character has discovered that Hank was a guard who was with her husband when he was put to death. She doesn’t leave, though. She’s there waiting for him outside on the steps. Watch her face. There’s a series of emotions that pass over it, from hatred, to fear, to love, to wonderment, to forgiveness, to contentment. Without saying a thing you see her considering a number of different responses to Hank returning, from screaming, to hating him, to crying, to confronting him, etc.
She finally just opts for not even telling him she knows – for just being with him and moving forward with a good relationship. And again, this all happens over only a few seconds and plays out on her face.
Monster’s Ball can be a tough film to watch in places. If you’re only watching it to see the famous sex scene then skip the movie and just watch the scene online. If, however, you want to see
Berry’s performance and
judge for yourself then I recommend you give this film a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars