Monster’s Ball, believe it or not, is a love story. It is a story about second chances and never giving up on people, not even yourself. A story of how hatred will destroy everything it touches. Monster’s Ball is an old English term given to the party that is thrown for the condemned the night before he is executed.
Hank Grotowski is a redneck correctional officer (Billy Bob Thornton) a career that was passed down from his father (Peter Boyle) that Hank now passes to his son (Heath Ledger).
Hank doesn’t really care about anything or anyone one. Hank even despises himself. He just doesn’t know it yet. He lives in rural Georgia and he doesn’t like change. He has been going to work at the State Penitentiary for some 20 years. Hank eats at the same restaurant and hates the same people. Just like his daddy. The Grotowskis have another family tradition; bigotry.
Then destiny steps in and changes Hanks life. Hank wakes up in a world that has changed around him. He doesn’t want to accept it. Three generations of men that have contributed nothing to society except to work on Death Row and hate.
The Grotowskis know how to hate. The question is, can they stop?
Leticia (Halle Berry) plays the wife of Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs), a convict on death row for shooting a cop. Leticia hates Lawerence for forcing her to make a life for herself and her overweight son, Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun). Leticia has been going to visit Lawrence for the 11 years. The entire time that Lawrence has been behind bars. He has exhausted all his appeals. He is ready to die and Leticia is ready for him to die, so that she can stop coming to a place that only brings back memories of their wasted lives.
Hank and Leticia, two characters dealing with the pain their lives. They both will experience loss of a loved one. It is this pain, and a strange course of events, that bring these two unlikely lovers together. Strangers that would never met. Shakespearian in their own way, each one of them flawed. Yearning for, love yet denied it because they have never really known what love is. Destiny steps in and does what Cupid would never dare, bringing the executioner with the condemned man’s wife. The racist with someone that he has been taught to hate his entire life.
This story shows that any life can be redeemed if you forgive yourself and let someone love you. Hank reaches out to help Leticia, a black woman, because his own pain blinds him. He gives no explanation, but Hank has changed and this change will affect everyone that comes in contact with him. Hank doesn’t know why he helps Leticia, but once he does he can’t stop. She becomes a part of his daily routine. Hank likes routine it comforts him. Like the same bowl of chocolate ice cream he eats every night.
There are so many exceptional performances in this movie. Thornton and Berry are so incredibly intense. You see two flawed people coming together when they have lost everything, trying to make sense of what the world has done to them.
Everyone in this movie seems to be doing time. The father that is dying of emphysema. The son that is dying to escape his life and waiting for his father’s love. Leticia is waiting for her husband to die so that the past will die with him. Then there is Hank. We are shown glimpses of a life as a correction officer. He is serving time just like the people he is paid to guard. Pretty soon he becomes just as cold and as numb as the prisoners. Hank even takes comfort in eating like them too.
This movie will leave you emotionally drained and will stay with you for days to come.