Monster's Ball ★★★★ 2001 (R)
Georgia death-row prison guard Hank (Thornton) is following in his father Buck's (Boyle) footsteps as a guard, and as a bigot. His son (Ledger) also has joined the family business, but doesn't seem to have the heart or stomach for it. When his son throws up during the execution of Lawrence Musgrove (Combs), Hank flies into a rage that makes him reexamine his life. Soon after, he helps the waitress, Leticia (Berry) from the diner he frequents after an auto accident. Leticia is Musgrove's widow, unbeknownst to Hank, who begins what at first is a desperate, sexual relationship with her that changes both of them. Director Forster and scripters Addica and Rokos provide a well-done, raw, and unflinching story that the excellent cast, especially Berry (who won the Best Actress Oscar) and Thornton inhabit perfectly. Boyle is also powerful as the malevolent patriarch. Everything comes together to announce Forster's arrival as a directorial force. 111m/C VHS, DVD . US Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Sean (Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy) Combs, Coronji Calhoun, Mos Def, Will Rokos, Milo Addica; D: Marc Forster; W: Will Rokos, Milo Addica; C: Roberto Schaefer. Oscars ‘01: Actress (Berry); Natl. Bd. of Review ‘01: Actor (Thornton), Actress (Berry); Screen Actors Guild ‘01: Actress (Berry).