Culture Magazine

Movie Review – Monster’s Ball (2001)

By Manofyesterday

Director: Marc Foster

Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle

After sending a man to his death on the electric chair, Hank (Thornton) suffers a tragedy of his own. While he’s dealing with his grief he comes across Leticia (Berry), who is also grieving, and the two of them explore a bond that turns into attraction despite Hank’s previously racist attitudes.

I remember hearing a lot about Monster’s Ball when it came out but I never got around to watching it until now. Obviously Halle Berry won an Oscar for her role and it was talked about as being quite controversial so I was looking forward to it and, well, if only it was a film about actual monsters going to a ball.

I don’t get the hype around this film at all. I don’t mind films when they have unsympathetic characters or challenging morals, but I at least like the characters to be interesting so that we feel something for them. It’s all quite subdued in this film though and the only one that I found worth the time was Peter Boyle as Hank’s father, in his small appearances he injected some much needed energy into the film, which is fairly ironic given the condition that his character was in. But the consequences of the film never seemed that much of a big deal, it was very much a character drama but when the characters are so flat and boring there’s no drama.

I get the feeling that it was supposed to say something profound about human nature, but it missed its mark entirely. There were some stylish directorial flourishes, like lots of shots through mirrors or at unnatural angles, and lots of long shots of people walking and driving and looking at the sea on a boat and oh man stop with the boring! The moments that should have had this amount of attention, the electrocution scene and the sex scene, were completely flat and didn’t hold onto any emotional core either. The sex scene was laughable as well and it appeared to be as graphic as it was to court controversy and garner attention rather than symbolize anything deeper.

I honestly don’t know what I’m missing here because to me it was lifeless, flat and just boring. There’s nothing worth my time at all and I don’t know how Berry won an Oscar for this. I can’t recommend watching this at all, it’s totally overrated and even though it brings up issues like prejudice and racism and different forms of abusive relationships they aren’t explored in any meaningful way so what you’re left with is a film about two people who get together after they both have difficulties in their lives and that’s about it really. It’s an ordinary film masquerading as something deep and profound.

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