I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
A woman brought what looked like a six year old child to my screening of this film. This is not a kids’ movie.
A Monster Calls is about a 12 year old boy called Conor. His mother is suffering from cancer. One night Colin is visited by a large, tree-monster who tells him that he’ll tell him 3 stories and that Conor will tell him a fourth one.
Films about children using magical creatures to deal with trauma is nothing new. Pan’s Labyrinth, Where the Wild Things Are, Adventure Time, even Toy Story if you read between the lines does this.
There can be a lot of variation in the lessons a child protagonist can learn in such stories. These are tales about what it’s like when you’re a kid and you’re all alone, with nothing but your confusing thoughts. That’s a gold mine of artistic opportunity.
They dig that gold here with a wonderful piece of cinema.
J.A Bayona directed this. His previous well-known project was The Impossible which alsodealt with a very heartbreaking topic, that being the 2004 Thailand Tsunami. Here he does a brilliant job. This movie is so beautiful and it burns with such a focus on its characters that you just have to love it.
The acting is also amazing. Felicity Jones is the Mother, Sigourney Weaver plays her mum and Liam Neeson is the voice of the monster. All of them are excellent, but the stand-out is Lewis MacDougall as Conor. You look at this young man and he can convey everything he is thinking in a way only a great performer can.
This is not a movie for kids. There is nothing bad for them in it, no bad morals, but the moral is one that does require some maturity to fully understand. Like with Silence, this has a them which you don’t necessarily see very much. Not that a Kid can’t get complexity, its just that by the nature of this theme they have to go through some heart-wrenching stuff.
While doing so, you do get to experience some breathtaking visuals. Not only do you see great CGI in the form of the Monster who is this great Tree-Creature, but his stories come to life with amazing animation.
I am not going to say that this is an enjoyable film to watch but the emotional machine-gun fire I got from it makes it so worth the price of a ticket.
Recommended Scenario: If you want your heart ripped apart and put back together by a beautiful movie.