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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.82%
Worth A Look32.88%
Average: 12.33%
Pretty Bad: 12.33%
Total Crap: 11.64%

10 reviews, 86 user ratings

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Monster's Ball
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by dionwr

"What 'A Beautiful Mind' wanted to be, and wasn't"
5 stars

Sometimes two similar movies come out at the same time, and the contrast throws the strengths and weaknesses of each film into relief. "A Beautiful Mind" and "Monster's Ball" are such a pair, and the comparison leads me to believe that "Monster's Ball" will be remembered when "A Beautiful Mind" is forgotten.

The plot, for those who don't know, concerns a racist Southern prison guard who starts a releationship with the black wife of a man he oversees the execution of. But the plot is secondary here to the character study, and to close observation of how and why these characters do the things they do. This is the first major difference with "A Beautiful Mind," which instead is concerned with the mechanics of its plot--what happened next.

Howard Hawks once said that a good movie has one great scene in it and no bad ones, and that a great movie has two great scenes in it and no bad ones. Well, "A Beautiful Mind," has no bad ones--but it has no great scenes in it, either.

The aspect of "Beautiful Mind" that cripples it is that it's too decorous, too unwilling to confront the truly unpleasant details of John Nash's life. By avoiding these truths, Ron Howard and Akiva Goldman also avoided making the more deeply moving film that they wanted to. Maybe if they'd dealt more with the details of Nash's life that they've been criticized for leaving out, maybe they'd have made me care more about his eventual rebith. "Monster's Ball," on the other hand, embraces the messiness of life, and shows how moving a drama can be.

Both films are meant as tales, eventually, of redemption. But "A Beautiful Mind" is too easy about it, and I never lost the sense of watching Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly in a movie. With "Monster's Ball," you quickly stop thinking about Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry, and start thinking about the characters.

Because you are drawn into the story, as opposed to skimming its surface, "Monster's Ball" is far more moving, and, I believe, memorable, though that is something only time will tell.

But going back to the Howard Hawks definition, there are two truly great, memorable scenes in "Monster's Ball." I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and to that end, I am going to leave their discovery to the viewer.

It's wonderful to see that Hollywood can still make a drama so good you forget you're watching a movie. And then they gave the Oscar to the wrong one. *sigh*

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originally posted: 04/06/02 06:10:45
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell downbeat but potent & honest 4 stars
1/24/11 Jeff Wilder Acting by Thornton and Berry is good. But overall it lacks the emotional impact it needs. 3 stars
9/26/08 Arcane Shit movie...slow as hell. Only watch if you like Halle and wanna see 'her'. 1 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome story! 5 stars
3/16/08 ladavies I think this movie is going to age well, to become an American classic. 5 stars
3/15/06 Jennifer I think this film was downright awful! 1 stars
9/08/05 bac movie isn't good at all, and the sex scene was unnecessary 1 stars
8/19/05 ES Incredibly hot sex scene wrapped in a boring, flavourless shell 2 stars
7/06/05 Pinkline Jones Berry's performance overrated as is the movie 4 stars
4/01/05 Carolyn Cherry I liked It 4 stars
3/19/05 lora mixed feelings, interesting but no sure I liked it 3 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens It was OK 3 stars
2/24/05 Dusty Johnson Loved it - Halle Berry is great! 4 stars
2/23/05 gracecchu The movie was totally not what I expected. Good, though I probably won't watch it again. 4 stars
2/20/05 Charlene Javier Billy Bob is good! 4 stars
2/20/05 abhster Halle Berry was riveting. Very raw and difficult for repeat watching. 4 stars
2/20/05 ashutitan no 5 stars
2/19/05 Denise okay 3 stars
2/19/05 Brenda Riley This one made me cry! 5 stars
2/19/05 april gupton relly creepy movie 2 stars
2/18/05 Shel Actually, I thought this movie portrayed H.B. as an actress and not just a "sex symbol" 4 stars
2/18/05 Colleen Goldrick i liked it 4 stars
2/18/05 Fahad Pinto way cool 4 stars
10/28/04 MEIRAV NORA COHEN Good acting. Sad movie 4 stars
10/01/04 Lourdes WOW 5 stars
7/17/04 Daveman This collection of promising elements unfortunately never quite amount to a unified film. 3 stars
7/13/04 Alfred Guy I don't see an award winning performance. Not even a great story. 3 stars
7/09/04 J Cadiramen This was gritty and harsh... the sex scene was powerful, if prolonged. 4 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva why did she win the oscar i can't figure it out 3 stars
7/06/04 Talonsoft Boring, Way!!! overated 1 stars
6/27/04 Charlene Javier Didn't like it at first. Love it now. 5 stars
6/17/04 Future NBA player why do white people hate on outstanding beautiful black actresses? White people..get a life 5 stars
5/07/04 Ross Interesting? no, doesn't everybody have sex like that? 2 stars
1/01/04 General Lee Stoned Good beatoff material at the end.. nothing wrong with some halle soft porn 3 stars
9/11/03 Goofy Maxwell To believe anglos invite afro-am's to the "ball" out of guilt is to be the "monster". 4 stars
6/26/03 cochese Best Actress!!?? HAHAHAHAHA. Another token negro gets an oscar. 1 stars
4/19/03 kevin hot 5 stars
4/18/03 Jack Sommersby Predictable and uninsightful. Thornton is superb; Berry is sub-par 2 stars
3/12/03 Shao Kahn Go home Halle you can't act! 3 stars
2/14/03 othree honest fast pace wincing personal story leaves you to take alot for granted 4 stars
2/04/03 Drunk Love Hey Triangle Man, go suck it off Eric's "Benet", have a drink & have a Monster Ball. }> 4 stars
2/03/03 Turtle None of the characters are worth sympathizing over in this badly written, overacted trash. 1 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones Zombi Holocaust was much more entertaining 1 stars
1/16/03 John Bale Powerful romantic drama with outstanding cast. Tennessy Williams would be proud. 5 stars
1/11/03 Can't stand Halle I want (sob) to thank (sob) the Academy (sob) for giving (sob) me this undeserved Oscar 1 stars
12/30/02 Femme_Fataleaa I was thoroughly dissapointed with Halle's choice of roles 2 stars
12/11/02 Ken I actually agreed with Mark Adnum. Who knew? Berry is incredible. And gorgeous. 4 stars
11/28/02 coods tuddtr 5 stars
9/11/02 Francofile Hooray - a movie that makes you think about the tough stuff. 4 stars
8/17/02 baby why would she accept such a degrating role she makes black women look bad she doesnt deserv 2 stars
8/17/02 DGaba Exceptional, Powerful, Incredable, Stunningly Excellent 5 stars
8/14/02 Bryan Brooks Why was this movie made? This has no point. 3 stars
8/12/02 Phil M. Aficionado I watched it twice in a row. It is that good. Lovingly made, tackles tough stuff head on 5 stars
7/12/02 Mark Adnum Sorry Melissa in NYC 4 stars
7/10/02 Bada Bing Crosby Movie is a mess; Oscars are now officially ruined thx to Halle's meltdown on stage 1 stars
7/01/02 Melissa in NYC Marc, your review sucks.Thanks for giving us details that ruins the movie.Fucker! 5 stars
6/24/02 Joe Hally Berry deserved her Oscar!! 5 stars
6/22/02 The Bomb69 solid film, ending left me a bit confused though 4 stars
6/21/02 Dark Barøn Not what I expected. And that's good. 5 stars
6/15/02 CDawson Great movie! Oscar for Halle ... why? 4 stars
6/15/02 natasha set-up is hard to believe, but the payoff is still good 4 stars
5/15/02 Amazing! Not what I expected. 5 stars
4/28/02 Magnum Craphole Best movie I've seen in the theaters in quite a long time. 5 stars
4/11/02 Monster W. Kung Easily, one of the best pictures of the year. Very emotional. 5 stars
4/05/02 ^Elendil^ Feel-good movie without the sugar (or you could just read Souter's spoiler!). 4 stars
3/28/02 Natalie Stonecipher Self-redeems in love story, but abuser's abrupt reform after son's suicide a bit incredible 4 stars
3/25/02 Bernice Hamel Amazed & wept by the story & performances. s & story. Wept 5 stars
3/19/02 malcolm supremely acted by the entire cast. slow in a couple of places. 4 stars
3/15/02 Bertha Venation Ugh, a bit of a drag. Lifeless. Illogical. Best characters dead early on. 3 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm The penultimate shot (watch Halle's face) justifies - nearly too late - the Oscar hype. 4 stars
3/08/02 luigi leone stone cold 5 stars
3/02/02 JB This is my kinda movie. Not much optimism. Beautiful movie. 5 stars
2/28/02 TorontoMan Saw it last week, was a fine film for all the reasons given in Eric's review 5 stars
2/26/02 Xaver Overall, a good film. Thornton did a great job. Drunk sex scene could have been better. 4 stars
2/26/02 ownerofdajoint gutsymaterialdealtwithrealunderstandingofthestupidityofracism 5 stars
2/25/02 Georgia Getschow Only went to see Heath Ledger again. Too much nudity --nothing left to imagination. 3 stars
2/23/02 IP Freely Watching the hooker take it from behind was best part of this turd of a film. Total crap! 1 stars
2/19/02 Stephanie Extremely heavy movie. 4 stars
2/18/02 costars2 Captivating; flawless, haunting film; fab performances 5 stars
2/17/02 Gibbo Very depressing, but a powerful and deeply moving story 4 stars
2/14/02 Butterbean Puffy was excellent! But the critics praised Berry only because she did a soft porn scene 4 stars
2/13/02 Ray Charles I *WISH* I was blind 1 stars
1/09/02 Melissa in NYC Absolutely wonderful - every key actor in the film is worth gold. 5 stars
1/05/02 Jake Remarkable film. Very moving and engrossing. 5 stars
12/22/01 Tom Great FIlm like they used to have in the 70's- Greatscript-Halle/BBT /Mos D are great!!! 5 stars
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  26-Dec-2001 (R)



Directed by
  Marc Forster

Written by
  Milo Addica
  Will Rokos

  Billy Bob Thornton
  Halle Berry
  Heath Ledger
  Peter Boyle
  Sean Combs
  Mos Def

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