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Monster's Ball | 2001 | R | - 9.6.6

Racism, the death penalty, and loneliness are the principal themes in this romantic drama: The wife (Halle Berry) of an executed convict (Sean Combs) and the prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) who was in charge of his execution become unlikely lovers and find solace, and perhaps even hope, in each other. Also with Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle and Coronji Calhoun. (1.51]

SEX/NUDITY 9 - There are several explicit sex scenes: One is quite extended, lasting several minutes, with the participants having sex in different positions (from behind, with the woman on top and with the man on top) and moving around a lot, from a couch and onto the floor; both are nude, the woman's breasts are clearly visible and we see the man from the side and back and there's a lot of thrusting and a lot of moaning. In another scene a man performs cunnilingus: we see his head move toward her lower body while the camera lingers on the woman's face and cleavage (she's wearing a bra) for several minutes; she's obviously excited and moans for a while until she climaxes. A man has sex with a prostitute in a motel room: She takes her clothes off (her buttocks and the sides of her breasts are clearly visible) and leans over and he has sex with her from behind; we see him thrusting for a minute or so until he climaxes. Also, a prostitute almost has sex with a man: she takes her clothes off (her breasts are clearly visible) and she leans over, the man approaches her from behind, but before the act is consummated he changes his mind. A man and a woman kiss each other sensually while lying in bed. We discern that a father and son frequent the same prostitute. We see a woman in a cleavage-revealing top a few times and also in her bra and a thong. We see a man in his underwear. There are several crude sexual references, especially one about interracial sex.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - We see an electrocution in great detail: a prison guard is first seated in the electric chair apparently to check it. Then we see a convict being shackled, his head is shaved, he's made to wear an adult diaper and he's taken to the electric chair chamber. He's strapped down and a hood is placed over his head. When the switch is thrown we see smoke coming out of his head while his body convulses. A man sits on an armchair and shoots himself in the chest. We see a bloody spot on his undershirt and his eyes remain open as he dies. We see a boy by the side of the street, unconscious after he was apparently hit by a car. We can discern some blood on his clothes (the scene takes place at night). We see blood on a woman's clothes (not her own). A man cleans blood from the back of a vinyl armchair and a car seat. We see the dead body of a boy in a hospital (the doctor pulls a sheet over his face). A man shoots twice in the air with a shotgun in order to frighten two young boys. A coffin is lowered into a grave. A man shoves, slaps and punches a younger man several times. The younger man falls to the floor and has a bloody lip and two other men pull the older man away. In a different scene a man slaps another man a couple of times and throws things off a night table. A man threatens another man with a revolver and pushes him down a flight of stairs and makes him fall to the floor. A woman slaps a boy repeatedly while deriding him for being obese; she ends up hitting him with her elbow and knocking him to the floor. We hear a man vomit while in the bathroom on two different occasions, and we see a man fall to the floor and he gets sick (not much is visible). We see a close up of a disgusting looking, very callused foot.


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LANGUAGE 6 - About 10 F-words and derivatives, several scatological terms, several anatomical terms (including a couple of explicit ones referring to female private parts), several religious profanities, a few religious exclamations, several derogatory terms for African-Americans and several insults.


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SUBSTANCE USE - Several people smoke, including an elderly man who apparently has to use an oxygen tank; also, several people drink alcohol and one woman is clearly inebriated.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - The death penalty, the electric chair, the mechanics of executions, prisons, racism, loneliness, losing a child, dysfunctional families, suicide, obesity (especially childhood obesity).

MESSAGE - Emotionally wounded people will sidestep their own prejudices in order to find companionship, support and hope.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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