February 21, 2002

Get This Ball Rolling

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Be warned: Monster’s Ball is utterly depressing. Its plot unfolds like a chain of falling dominoes, one miserable event following another. The film sucks away hope and doesn’t leave much to fill the vacuum it’s created. When leaving the theater, count your blessings if you still have the will to live.

That said, Monster’s Ball is also one of the most powerful, well-acted, socially conscious, and gripping films that has come out recently. Not only is its story heartfelt, but Monster’s Ball is radical in tackling weighty issues like race tensions and the death penalty. Set in a sleepy Georgia town its web of subplots is held together by the execution of Lawrence, a cop-killer, played by one Sean Combs. Thankfully, in this film, Combs is nothing like he is in his music videos. He is instead repentant, humble, and one of the film’s many pleasant surprises.

What’s not important to Swiss director Marc Forster is the veracity of Lawrence’s guilt —