Monster's Ball

Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton

Directed by Marc Forster
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
February 8, 2002

In the Oscar sweeps, you don't want to forget Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry in a rubbed-raw drama that the word offbeat doesn't begin to encapsulate. Thornton plays Hank, a guard on death-row duty at Georgia State Penitentiary. At home, Hank's sick dad (Peter Boyle), a retired guard, sucks oxygen and spits redneck bigotry. Hank's son, Sonny (a de-glammed Heath Ledger), shares guard duty with Dad and also the same tired hooker, whom they both bang standing up.ice, huh? Director Marc Forster and screenwriters Milo Addica and Will Rokos turn up the tension when Hank and Sonny supervise the execution of Lawrence Musgrove (a strong, understated Sean Combs), an event that catapults the film into shocking new directions. No fair telling more, except that Hank quits his job and takes up with the dead man's waitress wife, Leticia (Berry), a hard case not above beating her grossly overweight son, Tyrell (the excellent Coronji Calhoun), when he sneaks candy.

The wham-bam sex scene between Thornton and Berry is already notorious, so it's a wrench when the film takes a tender turn and becomes the year's unlikeliest love story. The actors make it unique and unforgettable. Thornton, already having a great year with The Man Who Wasn't There and Bandits, simmers with dark fire. And Berry — playing against type in the performance to beat among actresses this year — is volcanic. You can't take your eyes off them.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Money For Nothing”

    Dire Straits | 1984

    Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

    More Song Stories entries »