Realism takes viewers to the ball

By Corinna Callsen

Monster’s Ball examines the need for love, violence, hatred and racism. Overall, it’s a pretty weird mixture.

First, Billy Bob Thorton plays Hank Grotowski, a death row guard at a Georgia penitentiary. Then at home, Peter Boyle plays Hank’s dad, Buck Grotowski, a mean old bastard and retired guard of the same prison. He’s on oxygen yet still musters the piss and vinegar to spit on his dead wife, his grandson and especially on black people. A deglamourized Heath Ledger plays Hank’s son Sonny and is the only character in the Grotowski house who actually shows feelings. He also shares home, job and hooker with his dad, but gets only hatred in return.

Finally, an unladylike and makeup-
less Halle Berry plays Leticia, who takes her overweight son to see his dad one last time before he gets executed.

Great performances by all actors make this movie what it is-a melodramatic love story with no room for escapism. Nothing is covered up by makeup, fade-outs or lights. When you go and see this movie, be prepared to see the nastiest parts of middle and lower class life.

Apart from excellent performances, Monster’s Ball has more than a few slight bumps. The long minutes of silence where camera and faces are supposed to speak lead to a lack of flow and to confusing questions about the movie’s intention. Moreover, the music, which is supposed to underline the action, causes indigestion. It would at least be worth enduring if Thornton’s character didn’t make a 180-degree turn every two minutes.

During the first hour, Hank is a copy of his dad in his behaviour around blacks. He also beats up his son and has an obsession with chocolate ice-cream. The next thing you see is a wham-bam sex scene with him and oddly enough, Berry, who is, of course, black.

The shining stars in this movie are Halle Berry and magnificent performances by Thorton and Ledger. The real appeal, however, is that this movie and its characters aren’t quite perfect-just like our lives.