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NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by - Taller94 who calls it... "a rather touching drama that boasts probably the best acting all year."

The film opens as Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) wakes up in the middle of the night, and drives to the local diner, where he eats chocolate ice cream and drinks coffee. Across town, Hank's son Sonny (Heath Ledger) meets a prositute named Vera in a sleazy hotel room. Sonny has sex with Vera from behind, and the sex doesn't last very long. Sonny feels a little embarassed, and asks Vera to get something to eat with him, but she just leaves.

The next day, Hank eats breakfast with his father, Buck (Peter Boyle). Both men are deep southern racists, and Buck complains about some young black boys on their property. The boys are actually there to meet Sonny, and when he arrives, Hank goes outside with a shotgun and tells the boys to leave. Sonny, very upset with his father, gets back in his truck and leaves.

Hank and Sonny later go to work. They both work as guards at a Georgia state penitentiary, on death row. That day, Hank and a team of guards are planning for the upcoming execution of a black man named Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy). Lawrence is visited by his wife Leticia (Halle Berry) and their son Tyrell. Tyrell is a little confused about where his daddy is going, and Lawrence tries to explain to him the best way he can. When Leticia and Lawrence are alone, she explains to him that she's tired, that she's been going there for eleven years, and the only reason she was there that day was for Lawrence to say good-bye to Tyrell.

Hank and Sonny put Lawrence in a holding cell. Lawrence, who is an avid artist, draws portraits of both Hank and Sonny (important later). That night, Lawrence is prepped to be put in the electric chair. When the time comes, Hank and Sonny lead Lawrence down the "dead man's walk," but Sonny gets sick, and vomits, forcing another guard to take his place.

Lawrence is then strapped into the chair, and expresses no remorse. When a guard asks him if he would like to say anything to the family, Lawrence merely says, "Push the button." Lawrence is then electrocuted to death.

Hank then confronts Sonny in the bathroom of the prison, and yells and punches him for screwing up the "walk." Other guards pull Hank off of his son, and Hank leaves the bathroom. The next morning, Sonny is asleep upstairs, when Hank bursts in and continues the beating. Sonny suddenly pulls a gun on Hank and pushes him down the stairs. Sonny then sits in a chair, pointing the gun at Hank, and asks his father if he hates him. Hank says he does, he always has. Sonny says that's too bad, since he loved his father. Then, Sonny puts the gun to his chest, and fires, killing himself.

Hank and Buck bury Sonny in their backyard. A preacher is present to say a few words, but Hank is showing no sadness over Sonny's death, and says the only sound he wants to hear is the sound of the dirt hitting the casket. Hank later cleans his son's blood off of the chair, and digs out the bullet, which he puts in a mason jar. He also bolts the door leading to Sonny's room in the attic. Buck explains to Hank that Sonny was weak, showing no remorse either.

Meanwhile, Leticia is finding life difficult. Her car is falling apart, she is about to be evicted, and Tyrell, who is very overweight, keeps sneaking chocolate, forcing Leticia to hit him.

Leticia takes a job at the diner that Hank frequents. Upon their initial meeting, Hank is having his regular chocolate ice cream and coffee, and is being very rude to Leticia, eventually leaving her an eight cent tip for her service. Hank then meets the prositute Vera at the same hotel room as Sonny, and is actually about to have sex with her the same as Sonny, until she asks about his son. Hank suddenly isn't in the mood anymore, and leaves.

The next day, Hank passes Leticia on the side of the road, where her car breaks down. Hank just drives by, not even offering to help. Leticia has to walk to work that day, and drags Tyrell with her.

That night, it is raining immensely outside, and Leticia and Tyrell leave the diner late, Leticia even stealing an umbrella because she and Tyrell have to walk back. Hank leaves almost right after them, and passes by Leticia on the side of the road, screaming in the rain. Hank finally pulls over, and finds that Tyrell has been hit by a car, and rushes Leticia and an unconscious Tyrell to the nearby hospital.

At the hospital, Tyrell is pronounced dead, and Leticia breaks down. Hank wants to leave, but has to stick around to fill out a police report since the accident was a hit-and-run. Hank is about to leave when he realizes that Leticia left her purse in his car. He wipes Tyrell's blood off of it, and gives it back to her. Leticia is so broken down, she hugs Hank for support. The moment is awkward, but Hank suddenly feels very sorry for her. The police ask if he would take her home, which he does. Hank helps Leticia inside her apartment, and says not to worry, that they'll find the driver that killed Tyrell. Leticia scoffs at that notion, claiming that no one cares about a little black boy that was killed. Hank then leaves.

The next day, Hank is cleaning the blood off of the backseat of his car, when he realizes he needs a change. He doesn't want to be surrounded by death anymore, so he quits his job as a guard, even burning his uniform. Hank then buys a gas station. He's very excited about it, and tells Buck, but his father doesn't seem to care. A few days later, Hank passes Leticia on the road again. She's walking to work, and Hank offers her a ride. She agrees. Hank is suddenly very nice to her. That night, Hank comes in again for his chocolate ice cream and coffee, and offers to give Leticia a lift home after her shift is over. She agrees again.

On the ride back, Hank and Leticia talk and he tells her about his son dying too. She eventually invites him inside. They drink some Jack Daniels', and both get a little drunk. Leticia finally throws herself at Hank, and the two end up having sex.

The next morning, Hank wakes up and vomits. He promises Leticia that she's not the reason he was sick though. Both of them keep seeing each other, and Hank eventually gives her Sonny's old truck. Leticia doesn't feel right about it, but finally gives in when Hank persists. Hank is obviously head over heels for Leticia.

Hank's attitude and behavior begins to change as well. He is suddenly very kind to the two black boys and their father who were friends of Sonny. One day, however, while Hank is mowing his lawn, Leticia pawns her wedding ring to buy Hank a cowboy hat. When she arrives at Hank's house, Hank is not there; he's getting gasoline for his mower from his black neighbor. Leticia walks into the house, and meets Buck, who says very racist things to her. Leticia storms out of the house, just as Hank arrives back. Hank tries to explain, but Leticia just drives off. Buck stumbles out to the porch, and explains to Hank that they are the same, and always will be. Hank has had enough of his father, so he puts him in a resting home, where he explains to the head nurse that it's not necessary to take very good care of his father.

Hank tries to make up with Leticia, but she is still upset. Hank persists, even naming his gas station after her. One day, Leticia is finally evicted, and Hank drives by and sees Leticia and all of her possessions on the lawn. Hank gets a U-Haul and moves all of Leticia's stuff into his house.

Leticia asks Hank why he's so nice to her. Hank explains that he wants to take care of her; Leticia replies that she needs to be taken care of. That night, they make love again, and Hank feels like some ice cream. He goes out to a convenience store. After he gets the ice cream, he passes by his gas station, "Leticia's" and smiles. Leticia, meanwhile, goes through some old photos of Hank's, and eventually stumbles across the portraits of Hank and Sonny that Lawrence drew. Leticia realizes who Hank is, and starts to cry. When Hank gets back, Leticia is just standing there, shocked. Hank asks her to go to the porch with him and eat the ice cream. It seems like Leticia is going to shoot Hank or something (since everything else in the film has turned out bad), but she doesn't do anything of the sort. She and Hank sit on the porch, and eat the ice cream. She looks at him, and realizes that this is what she wants. The camera then pans to the starry sky, and the film ends.


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