There is probably little I can say about this film that hasn't been said before. It is a seamless work of art, blending so many elements--ingrained racism, the tension inherent in families, the sad results of bad parenting, the cruelty of society at large--that one is amazed to see it all fit in a single movie. Yet it gets these themes down effortlessly, thanks to fine writing, directing, and performances that shine through everywhere. For anyone who doesn't know, "Monster's Ball" is about two very disparate parents who are plainly awful to their children. One is a corrections offiicer in a state penitentiary, living with his bigoted, rigid father, and the son he seems to resent without cause, who is following in his footsteps. The other is a mother trying to raise a son whose father is on death row in the state pen, and due to be executed as the film begins. During the course of the movie, both parents lose their children, and a profound shift occurs in each of them. Suddenly, these two people who never should have met, who never should have been destined to get along, recognize in each other a kindred spirit--and the result is so uplifting and beautiful. I don't want to give the movie's best moments away; that would ruin it for future audiences. But the changes in character, the absolutely wonderful cast, boosted by fine writing and direction and even a haunting, lovely score, are bound to capture imaginations everywhere. Halle Berry gives the performance of a lifetime as Leticia Musgrove; Billy Bob Thornton is so subtle in his portrayal of Hank Grotowski that you want to applaud him for every scene in which he DOESN'T go over the top. And then there is Peter Boyle, the veteran, whose characterization of Buck, Hank's father, makes you forget he's acting. Finally, there is Heath Ledger, who is simply heartbreaking: you see all the talent there, you know you are watching a future mega-star at work, and then you realize he's died, on the verge of so much greatness. Ledger truly was a rare find. He was so young; yet in "Brokeback Mountain" he managed to believably age two decades. He had it all down: the walk, the physical stance, the vocal changes....and his talent was surely on display in "Monster's Ball". Already, he had star quality. To see it snuffed out so pointlessly is killing. But enjoy him in this film; take a look and you are sure to come away uplifted. There is no showboat scripting or acting here. It is quietly affecting. But if you want to see a move that takes a genuine look at human nature--its ugliness and sadness and its redemption--this is the one to watch.