[box cover]

Monster's Ball

Halle Berry won a well-earned Academy Award for Monster's Ball as Leticia Musgrove, a death row widow struggling to hold up her head under an onslaught of gratuitous hardship. However, deserving equal praise is Billy Bob Thornton, who, as a retired corrections officer dealing with tragedies of his own, extends an arm of comfort, leading to a desperate, needy affair that seems inevitably doomed under the weight of circumstance. With two dynamic and charismatic lead actors, Marc Forster's bleak film survives many handicaps, including weak supporting characters and a slow first hour that dwells on what, for better screenwriters, should have been mostly backstory. However, scribes Milo Addica and Will Rokos find a tense and engaging stride during the final act, even brazenly undercutting a classic, convoluted cliché with an ending that is surprisingly thoughtful, mature and affirming. Also with Peter Boyle and Sean Combs. Lions Gate's Monster's Ball DVD presents a strong anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that does a good job of translating Forster's bleak-but-vivid visuals to the small screen. Audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. This disc includes two commentaries, one in which director Forster is joined by director of photography Roberto Schaefer, and another in which Forster discusses the film with stars Berry and Thornton. Also on board are deleted scenes and outtakes, and trailers. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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