Monster’s Ball, Blu-ray (2001)

by | Oct 19, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Monster’s Ball, Blu-ray (2001)

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle
Director: Marc Forster
Studio: Lionsgate
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Director’s audio commentary track with writers Milo Addica & Will Rokos, Music for the Film, Deleted Scenes, Cast & director interviews, Behind-the-Scenes with producer Lee Daniels, On the Set, Theatrical trailer
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: *****

Ebert pegged this one Best Film of the Year, and Halle Berry won an Oscar for it in the Best Actress category.  It’s a superbly skilled acting masterpiece on the both Berry’s (Leticia) and Thornton’s (Hank) parts.  The Southern drama takes place in a town close to a state prison, where Thornton and his son are both embittered prison guards. One of their charges is a black man on Death Row who is then executed. Later, thru a series of coincidences, Hank and Leticia meet and begin a torrid affair without his knowing that she is the widow of the prisoner he helped electrocute and without her knowing what he did in his previous job as guard.  Part of their connection is that each has lost a problem son – Hank’s thru suicide and Leticia’s thru a hit and run.

The acting on behalf of both principles is raw and completely believable; so is the very explicit first sex scene they share.  (The film has an R rating.) The musical score was a cooperative project created by three composer/electric guitarists and is perfect for this low-budget film. In fact the whole film shows that it is possible to do a truly gripping masterpiece without special effects and without spending an unholy amount.  The transfer to Blu-ray appears to be without any artifacts, and the lossless DTS surround is effective when it is used. One small thing in the editing bothered me in the theatrical showing and now once again: a number of quick cuts during the big sex scene from behind railings and furniture in the house, which is a standard movie ploy for indicating someone is secretly watching. But there is no one except the viewer. The Blu-ray box states that it is “the longer version not seen in theatres,” but there are no comparison timings, although the sex scene did seem a bit fleshed out, pardon the expression…

 – John Sunier

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