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Monster's Ball  (2001)

IMDB Rating 7.5/10  111 min - Rated 15 Romance | Drama

Stars:            Halle Berry,  Billy Bob Thornton,  Mos Def Director:      Marc Forster

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 deservedly won the 2001 Academy Award as best actress for her role as the tragic Leticia. She displays a wide range of emotions from pity to sadness to dispare to ecstacy to happiness. Thornton is equally good as the similarly tragic Hank who goes through much of the same emotional change.  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.