Monster's Ball - The SSL Review

I watched Monster's Ball in the theater when it first came out in 2001. This was about a year before I started researching for Science, Sex and the Ladies, and about 8 years before I started this blog, so I didn't SSL Review it, obviously. However, I've often thought I need to go back and review this movie. It had, I remembered, one of the first going-down-on-a-lady scenes I ever remember seeing in a Hollywood movie. Plus, there's that super hot sex scene with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. So 13 years later, here's the SSL Review for Monster's Ball.

I liked the movie a whole lot, and rewatching it, I found that it still stands up. It's a good one to check out if you haven't caught it yet, although it's currently not on Netflix, so you'll have to do some searching. I'm happy to say, it also will be getting a pretty good SSL Review, so there's that too. There were 2 scenes that discussed or depicted female orgasm or masturbation and one that depicted sex with a clear lack of female orgasm - which I think is just as important, so let's start with that one.

Sonny and Vera's Scene
One of the characters, Sonny - played by Heath Ledger, has a prostitute into his motel room. It's a quick cordial interactions.
Sonny: Vera, how you doin'?
Vera: Good. how are you?
Sonny: I'm Good. Here. (he gives her money) Sorry. You want a drink?
Vera: Oh yeah. Thanks, hon. (She undresses)
Sonny: Wild Turkey. (They drink)
Vera: Now, I'm sore, so go easy, Darlin'.
Sonny: Yes ma'am.
At this points she stands with her hands on a table in front of her and Sonny pulls his pants down and penetrates her from behind. He pumps into her - not too harshly, of course - and comes. She is unresponsive in her body and voice during the sex - just sorta getting the job done.
Sonny: Thanks Vera.
Vera: You're welcome.
It's a realistic scene (especially the part about being sore, am I right?). He's paying for the use of her vagina as a masturbatory tool. They're both on board with this, everyone is getting what they came for, and one of those things is not a lady-gasm. Which is right on point because a penis moving in and out of a vagina is not really something that would cause an orgasm anyway. I think this is a good example of how a vagina is a top of the line masturbation tool for males, but a penis is not a top of the line masturbation tool for women (unless it's vibrating and sitting against her clit, of course).

Leticia and Hank's Big Ol' Sexy-Ass Scene
Okay, the next scene is the big hot one that was talked about so much when the movie came out. Basically, Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) and Leticia (Halle Berry) are strangers put together by a tragic situation and end up back at her house. She eventually asks him to "make her feel good" as she's taking off her shirt. It's as if the sex is a way to lessen the pain she is feeling, and the sex the two have becomes passionate and raw. They are at a couch with a coffee table in front of it and, and they get into several positions on the floor and the couch. It's cut into kind of a montage and is shot voyeur style from another room or something. Except for a small shot where it seems she sucks his dick for a minute, it's all intercourse happening.

They are both on their knees; her bent over the couch seat, him behind her. She is grunting from the thrusting but not orgasmically. She looks at him, turns around and flips over so she is sitting on the couch straddling him as he kneels in front of her. She sits upright so her upper body and pelvis are pressed against him. There are quick disjointed cuts here, but it looks as though there might have been an insinuation of an orgasm - which is believable enough to me because her pelvis (and thus her clitoral glans) in many of the cuts seemed to be aggressively grinding against his body and she even seems to be grabbing his butt and pulling his pelvis towards her to keep the friction.

Okay, so then he rolls on top of her on the couch as her legs wrap around his body. There is definite pounding that is heard (certainly good for a male orgasm), although the voyeur camera goes out of focus for a sec. She says, "Fill me up," a few times and after a few more good pounds into her he seems to do just that without much vocal fanfare, and we see him end breathless as he relaxes a bit. She also makes some guttural, screamy sounds that could be orgasmic, and just might be meant to be seen that way, but I don't think that's the case. I think it could be viewed as just the intensity of the moment that caused the sounds to come from her. I don't think it's uncommon for a woman to vocalize at the same time a man is orgasming. Of course, that's probably a common time for women to fake. It's also probably often misunderstood by the partner as an orgasm and can be wrongly viewed in movies as signs of an orgasm, but I think it was clear that she was focusing on his orgasm here, and she did continue on pursuing her orgasm right after, despite his finishing.

Leticia quickly rolls him onto the ground, making sure he stays inside, and get on top. She leans forward onto him and moves her body back and forth, doing him slowly. There are quick cuts and they continue to do it in this position, although she has sat up and is more bouncing on him. She seems to come again in this positions, although there was clearly no hands in use and her pelvis/vulva was not touching anything for stimulation. He eventually comes again still in this same position, but this time he gives us more vocal fanfare.

After he finishes, she falls forward, kissing him and is really rolling and grinding her hips on him, slowly but urgently. She keeps her pelvis tight against his body through all her rolling and grinding, as she has a non-porny orgasm. It's about as realistic as I've seen in a movie. Not only is there closeness of her pelvis to his body, showing the possibility of clitoral glans stimulation, but she is actively moving her body in such a way that would really cause that friction on her clitoral glans. She is in control. His body is still. He has already come. He is looking at her with awe as she does this. This last part is about her helping herself get hers, and I feel like that had to be an intentional creative choice in this movie.

There is a lot of stuff in this long sex scene, and I may not have all the intentions right about which part was an orgasm and which is not, but I'm clear about where her body was in times when it seemed like an orgasm was happening. I'm also clear that she had at least 1, maybe 2 orgasms that could have actually happened to a real woman. The one in the middle seemed closer to a classic, bouncing on a dick orgasm that we see in movies all the time, but I'll forgive that one. To me, at the heart of this scene, it was two people unabashedly enjoying the pleasures, both mental and physical, that come with a passionate sexual encounter. Now that's not really all that strange of a thing to see in movies, but there was more than that. What was particularly exciting to me about this scene was that it also seemed to show those two people sharing and taking turns giving each other orgasms. That's so fantastic because sex always seems to be depicted ending with a man and a woman who just orgasmed at the same time, and that is simply not likely. A man needs his penis stimulated and a woman her clitoral glans. They need different movements. It's just how it is. Showing couples always coming at the same time is just another fantasy way of insinuating to women that him pounding into her should make her come too.  This scene was also more graphic than most, so it allowed the audience to really see how Halle's hips grinded and pressed into him. I think that's just too dirty to show sometimes, but it is the way that women can orgasm hands free during intercourse. Anyway, I found it progressive and refreshing.

The Goin' Downtown Scene
The last scene is simple. There is a shot of the two in bed, from the chest up. He asks her if he can touch her, and she agrees, and then he moves down her body and out of shot. We just watch her face as he performs oral sex on her, and she eventually comes in a fairly non-porny, realistic way. I don't think I have to tell you that a mouth on the vulva, which is insinuated here, can certainly and realistically make a lady come. I can get behind a sensible scene like that.

The Verdict
This movie showed both a non-ladygasm sexual situation, like the prostitute one, and a lady-gasm inducing situation, like the going-down-on-her scene, with realism. It also showed a long sexual scene between a man and a woman that, although not perfectly realistic to my ridiculously high standards, beautifully emphasized taking turns for orgasm, a lady's need to really grind during intercourse, and the power of her doing the work to get herself there. This gets a 5 out of 5 vulva rating - not because it's perfect, but because it made an attempt to be better, and it mostly succeeded...and it was hot to watch.


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