“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.
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):