By Steven Horn I need a hug. Somebody needs to come make me feel good. Those of you who gnash your teeth and chew your tongue to shreds trying not to bust out cryin' during movies like Dead Man Walking, The Apostle, and Slingblade should probably steer clear of the latest Deep South flick that mercilessly strums the heart strings: Using practically every tool in the box to get the waterworks flowing dead child, suicide, death row, electrocution, racism, senility, eviction, booze, funerals, secrets, etc.
Monster's Ball got people's tongues wagging for two reasons: Halle Berry's performance for which she won an Academy Award and the frank sex scenes between Berry and Thornton. As for Berry's performance, it is definitely solid. She always looks like she's about to come completely apart at the seams. The sex scene is really not all that graphic, it just comes out of nowhere and hits hard mainly because Berry and Thornton let it all hang out.
Even in this post-Swordfish world, it is a shocking thing to see squeaky clean Berry do a nude sequence. The Movie Hank Thornton is a spun-out corrections officer in a small southern town.
He has an unsatisfying life: When he meets another tortured soul Leticia Berry , he is immediately drawn to her despite his father being a seething racist. As Leticia's life continues to unravel her son is in an accident, she is evicted, her husband Sean Combs fries in the electric chair, etc , she becomes increasingly entangled with and reliant on Hank. Supporting actor Heath Ledger turns in an incredible nuanced performance as Hank's son, a tortured soul if there ever was one.
Monster's Ball isn't so much an epic story or "message movie," but a series of small vignettes strung together. If there is a point to the whole film, it is that love comes at the strangest and sometimes most horrible times in life. Interiors are crisp and wide.
Stand-out scenes for color include some of the nighttime diner shots and the nighttime shots of Billy Bob and Halle in the pick-up truck. No big troubles with the video quality or color levels. Three composers used a variety of instruments and effects work to produce a chilling, low-key soundtrack.
Much of the film is quiet and so the rears never really get a big workout. Certain sounds shock you back into reality the gunshot, for example. All in all, a decent DD5. As a result, we get a fairly standard batch of extras content.
The score is sparse and, as noted above, perfect for the film. Here we meet the three composers in a series of interviews which also feature the re-recording mixer and film editor. There are four deleted scenes here of production quality. Probably the best takes place on the schoolyard where Halle's child gets completely lost in his drawing. It is a powerful scene most likely snipped because it shows the child in a private school uniform when the family is supposedly dirt poor.
The commentaries are pretty cool. There is one with the director as well as cinematographer. The second one features the director along with Billy Bob and Halle. Kind of an interesting commentary in that the director asks Billy Bob abd Halle questions throughout the film. Billy Bob and Halle are pretty relaxed and complimetary throughout the commentary.