Don't be fooled by the Georgia License plates and the
peaches, this movie was shot in Louisiana. Now you know why we love
it so much down here. Just kidding, Robin! It's weird that
they tried to make it Georgia. Besides that fact that there aren't
a lot of big levees there, we can clearly see the outline of Louisiana
on the Prison Guard uniforms worn by several of the main characters.
Anyway, this is the story of a guard (Billy Bob Thornton) at the Louisiana
State Pen, known affectionately down here as Angola. He works on Death
Row. Working at the State Pen is a family affair.
Billy Bob's father (Peter Boyle) was a prison guard and his son (Heath
Ledger) has followed in their footsteps. As the film opens, one the
prisoners (Puff Daddy) is about to be executed and is saying farewell to
his wife (Halle Berry) and son. Puff Daddy likes to sketch people
to pass the time and does portraits of Billy Bob and Heath. I mention
this because it's important later. Anyway, these are not happy people.
Billy Bob gets along neither with his racist father nor with his son.
He is angry. On the other side of the tracks, things aren't any better.
Puff Daddy is executed leaving Halle Berry struggling to survive.
Then, when similar tragedies strike both families, Billy Bob and Halle
meet and get involved. They are both so needy that they just naturally
gravitate to each other. Halle doesn't know that Billy Bob was one
of the Death Row guards when her husband was there. Billy Bob finds
out when he finds some of his sketches. He doesn't feel the need to tell
Halle about this. Meanwhile, Halle is becoming totally dependent
on Billy Bob. The story continues to swirl, with the characters always
about to go into a death spiral. But that doesn't quite happen and
despite everything there is some hope at the end. The ambiguous final
scene is pretty realistic. They don't know what is going to happen
in the future. Oh ya, there is that big sex scene. Well,
it's true you see a lot of Halle Berry but be warned, you see a lot
more of Billy Bob and that can be a bit scary. The cast is very good
in Monster's Ball. As you probably know, Halle Berry went
after this role big-time in order to show once and for all that she is
not just another pretty face. First of all , even though they go
to great lengths to tone down her looks in Monster's Ball, she still
looks great. Second, she can act. She has shown this before
in Jungle Fever, Bulworth
and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
But she shows it here and certainly deserves her Oscar nomination.
Billy Bob does his usual good job of dropping completely into character.
Heath Ledger is almost unrecognizable as he morphs himself into an unhappy
young man from Louisiana. He is very good in this small role. Peter
Boyle, probably still most famous for his part as The Monster in Young
Frankenstein, has a role with a little more edge to it that he usually
shows. Monster's Ball is a typical story of whites, blacks,
and dysfunctional families that we have come to expect from the South.
The title refers to a party given for the condemned man the night before
his execution. Billy Bob's whole life is a Monster's Ball.