A Monster Calls Mini Review

“If you have to break things, then by God, you break them!”

Directed by: J. A. Bayona

Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell

Synopsis: With his mother (Felicity Jones) facing death, Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) must come to terms with the ever-approaching reality of life without her. Before she passes, there’s a truth that he has to face, and he’s called upon by a tree-like Monster (Liam Neeson) to speak the unspeakable, but not before he’s been told three stories in return.

Lewis MacDougall as Conor O'Malley and Felicity Jones as Lizzie Clayton.
Lewis MacDougall as Conor O’Malley and Felicity Jones as Lizzie Clayton.

I haven’t been this emotional watching a film since Free Willy!

A Monster Calls may be full of fantasy, stories of lost kingdoms, an invisible man, and a giant talking tree, but this is a mature, brutally honest account of one boy’s attempt at dealing with the loss of his mother. Lewis MacDougall is fantastically emotive as the aforementioned boy, Conor O’Malley, particularly when you consider that he’s acting opposite green screen and models for many of the weightier scenes.

The influence of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro on director J. A. Bayona is plain to see; beautiful, handcrafted animated sequences, the design of the Monster itself, and the coming of age tale of a young child being put through the harshest of trials, à la The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth. Yet he also forges his own path, with A Monster Calls far more grounded in reality than much of Del Toro’s work, feeling raw at all times, no matter how fantastical it becomes on the surface. Honestly, it’s all a bit too much to cope with come the end.

I’m not crying, I’ve just got dust in my eyes…

Rating (out of 5):

4.5 Stars


Pre-order A Monster Calls on Amazon, or buy the soundtrack on iTunes.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    This one really made me emotional. I saw it at TIFF and you could hear an entire concert hall crying by the end. I was crying so much at the end I literally forgot to try to hold it in. That’s never happened to me before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luke Kent says:

      It’s literally been years since a film’s made me sob like this (dead inside lol), it got me good!


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