Here's a review for the excellent movie Monsters Ball. I'd forgotten just how brilliant it is.
Monsters Ball also reminded me just how great an actor Billy Bob Thornton is. Like Tom Hanks, he is great at playing the everyman, the 'average joe'. But with Thornton, you get the sense that he has really suffered in life, that he's a bit downtrodden and has had to struggle to survive. I think this is partly down to his weather-beaten look and downtrodden appearance, combined with his world-weary demeanour.
It's been two years since my first viewing of Monsters Ball and it has stood the test of a repeat viewing. The subtleties and nuances of the direction and production are that good that you come away with a different impression than the first time.
On first viewing, Monsters Ball is very much about the story and the experiences of the characters. On second viewing, you are freed of the constraints of plot and characterisation, and become more aware of the mood, music, ambience and cinematography. It's an altogether different movie to the one you remember seeing. The fact that the film is so multifaceted would indicate that director Marc Forster is one to watch.
Monsters Ball doesn't wrap up the harsh realities of it's plot with cotton wool or sentiment. You get the cold, hard facts of events - depicted as they would undoubtedly appear in reality. It deals with issues of conformity, race, loss, hardship, alienation and love. And the ending is ambiguous. Crucially, the plot is not left dangling, it is fairly obvious that the viewer is left to make up his/her own mind about the outcome.
What is so pleasing about Monsters Ball is the fact that it works. It's a risky gamble to make a film like this. Just one element might have been out of step with the rest of the production and the whole would not have been equal to the sum of its parts. Fortunately, we have great actors, a great director, great script, great music, great editing and great cinematography.
One can't help but wonder why Monsters Ball didn't receive further awards than for its standout lead female performance. In the future, Monsters Ball will be considered one of the greats of it's time, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this heartfelt, emotional, reflective, mature film.