Monster's Ball

A black waitress and a white corrections officer in rural Georgia experience more misery in the first hour of this movie than some people do in a lifetime, and to its credit the drama doesn't collapse under the weight. Instead it intensifies, peaking as the officer, a hopeless racist just a few scenes earlier, struggles to explain to himself and the waitress why he suddenly wants to know her. An underlying ambiguity in what the two don't know about each other—he supervised the execution of her husband, though neither seems to realize this immediately—is obscured and deftly exploited. Marc Forster (Everything Put Together) directed a screenplay by Milo Addica and Will Rokos; with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. 108 min.

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