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Film / Monster's Ball

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Monster's Ball is a 2001 dramatic film directed by Marc Forster. It stars Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, and Heath Ledger.

The movie chronicles a Southern correctional officer who, after the suicide of his son, strikes up an unexpected romance with a woman after the death of her husband (a death row inmate) and son.

For her performance in the film, Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress—the first black actress to win in that category.


This film provides examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The executed death row inmate's cell number is 13.
  • Abusive Parent:
    • Leticia goes berserk on her son when she finds out he's been hiding snacks from her, mocks him for being obese, and hits him when she proves on the weighing machine that he hasn't lost weight.
    • Hank gets mad at Sonny for puking during the executionee's last walk and gets into a fight with him later. Afterwards, when Sonny asks if he loves him, he answers no. Hank's father Buck also calls Sonny weak when they bury him.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Leticia eventually finds out that Hank is the former prison guard who executed her husband, but she doesn't confront him over it and as the credits roll it's left ambiguous whether their relationship will survive this revelation.
  • Anachronism Stew: While the movie is supposedly set in the early '90s, a late '90s / early '00s Cadillac Escalade can be seen passing through the foreground as Leticia enters the pawn shop.
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  • Artistic License – Geography: Throughout the movie there are conflicting references to its being set in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Georgia.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: prostitute Vera to Hank: "How's Sonny?".
  • Big Eater: Leticia's son Tyrell loved to eat a lot of snacks like candy bars.
  • Bigot with a Crush: Despite his racist upbringing, Hank begins a relationship with a black woman named Leticia.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: This is not only a source of conflict, but the main one at that. A white death row guard begins a relationship with a black woman after he walked her husband to the electric chair, which he keeps hidden from her. She finds out the truth by the end, but it's left open if they'll remain together.
  • Brick Joke: Hank's love of chocolate ice cream. By the end, he and Leticia are eating some ice cream together.
  • Burn Baby Burn: Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) burns his corrections officer uniform after quitting the job.
  • Coitus Ensues: The infamous sex scene, which many viewers regard as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. Within minutes, Leticia's crawling into Hank's lap, kissing him and asking him to "make me feel good". It quickly escalates into sex between the two with no questions asked.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Buck Grontowski hates african-americans and makes it clear to both Hank and Leticia that he does not approve of their relationship when the two get together.
  • Death Row: Hank and his son are both death row guards. Hank particularly gets into it with his son when Sonny screws up a condemned man's "last walk" by breaking down puking in the middle of it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sonny fatally shoots himself through the heart after a confrontation with his father Hank.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Leticia drowns herself in some alcohol just before sleeping with Hank to cope with the losses of her husband and son.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Yeah. Push the button". Lawrence Musgrove, after the executioner asks him if he has any last words
    • "Well, I've always loved you." Sonny to Hank, before shooting himself in the chest
  • Fan Disservice: Halle Berry naked during a sex scene? Attractive. Billy Bob Thornton? Not so much.
  • Fanservice:
    • Leticia sleeping naked in a sheet.
    • Leticia baring it all during the infamous sex scene.
    • Hank performing oral sex on Leticia in his house.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Sonny stress-vomiting into a toilet in the film's opening.
    • Leticia and her son walking home when she warns him to stick close by her or else "he'll be hit by a car".
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Vera is a prostitute Hank meets rather often. She appears to be kind and friendly as she never says anything harsh to him and always speaks in a sweet manner.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: In the sex scene mentioned above.
  • I Have No Son!: After Hank's father Buck drove Leticia away with his racist remarks, Hank has his father removed from his home and put in a nursing home for what he done.
  • Love Father, Love Son: Not love, but Hank and his son visit the same prostitute in town. The sex itself in both instances is about as mechanical as you can get.
  • No Dead Body Poops: When a condemned criminal is to be electrocuted he is shown with adult diapers.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Both Hank and Leticia lose their sons to untimely deaths.
  • Professional Sex Ed: This seems to be why Hank takes his adult son with him to visit a prostitute.
  • Race Fetish: Buck's lie to Leticia, implying that Hank is only involved with her because he enjoys sex with black women.
  • Racist Grandma: A male version. Hank's father and Sonny's grandfather is a racist elderly man who hates african-americans and spews out racial slurs left and right.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Variation: Hank and his son Sonny are officers who work on Death Row and the story opens as the latter is about to participate in his first "last walk" of a condemned man. (The title refers to the party that used to be thrown the night before an execution.) However, Sonny loses his nerve and vomits during the walk. Hank is humiliated and furious and confronts him the next morning; the fight ends with Sonny committing suicide. The remainder of the film has Hank struggling with this loss (and notably, his own father chalks Sonny's fate up to weakness).
  • Sex for Solace: Leticia has sex with Hank after the deaths of her husband and son. Hank himself had recently lost his son Sonny.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Sonny vomits during the executionee's last walk.
  • Wham Line: Leticia to Hank: "I want you to make me feel better. I want you to make me feel good." (Coitus Ensues)
  • Wham Shot: When Leticia finds the drawings of Sonny and Hank done by Lawrence as he awaited execution.


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