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Dear Monster’s Ball,

I pause at the beginning of this prose to ponder what it is about your characters that reaches inside me. What aspects of their hard knock lives, of all that terrible hate that gets passed down to them and that scabbed over scar that has become their lives?

Then it just starts to unfold in front of me and I begin to notice. The toxic relationships, the lack of the softness in women in this environment, the virulent bigotry all add up to this thick leaden environment that makes Buck’s oxygen look mighty appealing whether they need it to breathe or not!

Then the glimpse into Hank’s life shows its true depth. The regular death that pervades the job, the dark currents beneath the three generations of Grotowski’s.

When Sonny, his son, has a misstep his house of cards crashes down. And as is usually the case, it does so with enough force that it causes everything to unravel with such vehemence that lives are lost and there is one more family tombstone to plant.

As this impact saturates Hank’s existence, the life of another that is unknowingly tied to his crashes into him and reminds him that the milk of human kindness can save lives. As my shoulders slump with the weight of all that transpires, I spot the ray of light that her catastrophe shines upon him. Before him lies a woman who loved her son far more than he loved his own, at least while he was living.

In her lowest depth and most dire need, tapping his most profound empathy and sympathy and sparking my fervent hope, she just wants him to make her feel better and feel good, and it is a right thing. So right, and powerful that it’s a transformational thing, beyond anything any of us can fathom.

As this transformation unfolds for Hank, the mettle of a man is brought forth that few people ever see or even believe is possible. He never even gets to the point of talking a talk, he just walks the walk right from go. His life of transformation from the start is so natural that even when I wonder if he realized the dreaded original connection with her that would undo his fragile blessing. But I soon realize your intent renders it moot, Monster’s Ball. So long, job. So long, death. So long, dad and bigotry. Hello, fresh paint. Hello, knight in shining armor and hello, new life.

Of course she has doubts and he mostly allays them, though he can see those too-good-to-be-true eyes sneak out to question him on occasion.

Yet as all untoward things occur she learns of this dark connection between them both and her anger is a part of her ‘transformational thing.’ Such is the power of her process that when he returns from his ice cream run hers is one of the greatest torn, angst filled faces ever to grace film. Such is its impact that I don’t know what she will do and it does not matter to him as he lives his new truth fully and will accept all that fate deals him.

Then, (sigh,) as they take in the stars and he tells her that she looks pretty and sits on the back stair cooing “I think we’ll be alright,” she completes her metamorphosis as he feeds her that spoon of ice cream and she sees those graves.

As she exhales and knows in that moment that loss has to be relegated to the past and life has to move on her look toward you and out at the world can not be described by me. There are no words. All you know is that it will be okay and it needs to be just that.

Monster’s Ball, your human resolution ranks up there with the greatest film has to offer such as; Rutger Hauer’s passing in Blade Runner or his wrath and redemption in Ladyhawke. How about the absolute human calamity that is the execution of John Coffey in the Green Mile or the unmitigated statement of hope that Tim Robbins conveys with “get busy living or get busy dying.” Let us not forget the utter and complete wrath of Bill Munny as he takes that whiskey and marches into town like the hand of god to enact certain vengeance. These are the undeniable moments of binding certitude and legendary resolution to which you belong and that will carry you into lasting classic status for all time. Just like the ones previously mentioned this is what too will preserve a place in my heart of hearts for an undying love that I gladly bestow upon you.

For all time,

Rick Sandlas