Last night I watched the film Monster’s Ball, which was another film in my LoveFilm list. Chose this film simply because of Halle
Berry’s Best Actress Academy win back in 2002. Monster’s Ball is a drama film set in Georgia, and focuses on two main characters, Leticia who is played by Halle, and Hank who is played by Billy Bob Thornton. It revolves around death row, and Leticia’s husband, who is played by Sean Combs (P. Diddy) has only a couple of days before his execution, Leticia and her son go and visit him for the last time.
The term Monster’s Ball comes from medieval England in which the guards called the prisoners ‘Monsters’, the night before the prisoners execution, they would hold a feast for them as their farewell, and so was called ‘Monster’s Ball’.
Leticia is a waitress who struggles to gain hours at work, there’s a 30 day notice nailed on her front door, so she is desperately trying to save money to stay in her house with her son. Hank and his son Sonny who is played by Heath Ledger, both work as Correction Officers in death row at the prison. Hank lives with his father, and working as a Correction Officer is a generational occupation in their family. Sonny’s first execution is with Leticia’s husband, but Sonny breaks and vomits on his way to the chamber. Hank isn’t one to hold back his feelings, he detests Sonny for his weakness, and abuses him verbally and physically after the execution.
Hank and Leticia meet through Leticia’s job, he is a frequent customer and always orders a black coffee and chocolate ice cream with a plastic spoon. Their relationship deepens as they are brought together through loss, coming to a climax as Leticia brings Hank back to her place, a graphic and pretty long sex scene ensues.
Leticia is eventually evicted from her house after not being able to pay her rent, and Hank steps in and offers to take her into his house to live with him. The film ends a nice note as they both sit on a step, “I think we’re going to be alright” Hanks says as the camera pans up to the stars and fades to black, credits roll.
That was of course a brief summary of the film, but I wanted to cover the important stuff without spoiling too much. There is a quite a lot of full-on female nudity and graphic sex scenes in the film.
I was a little sceptical at first as to why Halle won, but at the end of the film I was completely convinced by her emotionally erratic, gripping character and her chemistry with Hank. I think the story of the film was quite simple in itself, but understated and compelling. It’s definitely quite a sad, depressing film but one that ends a nice and positively. In a way, it reminded me of ‘As Good As It Gets’ in the sense that the emphasis was on the importance and benefit of meeting people, and forming friendships in unlikely situations.