New York Times - 12/26/2001
"...The characters and the bond that develops between them are too complex for words....Their economy and the eloquence of Mr. Foster's unshowily beautiful images give MONSTER'S BALL the density and strangeness of real life..."
USA Today - 12/26/2001
"...MONSTER'S BALL proves that Halle Berry had a spectacular performance inside her waiting to be unleashed and that Billy Bob Thornton still had a third one left in his stunning 2001 stockpile..."
Box Office - 01/01/2002
"...An interesting tale: well-told, sad and funny and ultimately uplifting..."
Rolling Stone - 01/17/2002
"...The actors make it unique and unforgettable....You can't take your eyes off them..."
Variety - 11/19/2001
"...Burning with a quiet intensity, MONSTER'S BALL is bolstered by a poetic, intelligent sensibility..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 02/01/2002
"...[Thornton] gives the best performance of his career in MONSTER'S BALL....This is a fearless, brutally honest performance, etched with shadings and remarkable subtlety..."
Sight and Sound - 06/01/2002
"...Thornton displays a remarkable gift for understatement....Thornton brings a gentleness to the part that acts as a much-need balm on the wounds we see all around..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 06/02/2002
"...Written with the complexity of great fiction, avoiding obligatory scenes, cutting straight to the heart....The best film of 2001..."
Set in modern Mississippi, MONSTER'S BALL subtly examines the impact of personal loss and the transforming power of human connection. The movie begins in the state penitentiary's death row, where father-and-son prison guards Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) and Sonny Grotowski (Heath Ledger) administer the execution of a black death-row inmate Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs), who leaves behind a wife, Leticia (Halle Berry), and son, Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun). When both Hank and Leticia's children subsequently die, the two grieving parents are accidentally thrust together, where they begin to find comfort and eventually a form of redemption.
Employing a languid pace and minimalist dialogue, MONSTER'S BALL slowly moves forward on the strength of the cast's performances (including a supporting turn from Peter Boyle as Hank's ailing racist father, Buck) and Marc Forster's understated direction. The complex characters are allowed to develop gradually over the course of the entire movie, making the film a richly satisfying character study rather than a quick, plot-driven confection.