#REVIEW: “A MONSTER CALLS”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Sometimes a Movie sets out to tug on our heartstrings. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. However in the instance of J.A Bayona’s A Monster Calls, it is safe to say that it succeeds. Emotions run high in this wonderfully-thought-out adaptation of Patrick Ness’s book of the same name. The only calling out to be heard are the noises people suppressing their cries.
The Movie focuses on our lead character Conor (Lewis MacDougall) as he is trying to cope with life as well as the untimely and unfortunate state of his Mum (Felicity Jones) who suffers from a terminal illness. At the beginning of the Movie, Conor has to fight his nightmare, a forgotten church/cemetery has an earthquake and his Mum falls in as he tries to save her. However, he does not have to fight this alone as he is challenged by The Monster (Liam Neeson) who is a tree asking Conor to listen to his three stories and at the end of his three stories he will have to tell the monster his nightmare. Conor begrudgingly agrees to these terms to get The Monster off his back and also to escape his Grandma (Sigourney Weaver) from making him face reality. However, these stories that The Monster tells Conor help him face his fears, make him more visible and stand up for himself, helping him come to peace with that the future inevitably holds. With a character given a name as menacing as The Monster, it truly makes you wonder if a monster is just what we make of someone.
For a Movie with this much emotional heft to it, there is a lot lying on the strength of its performances. Thankfully, that is what they have in 14-year-old Lewis MacDougall who is honestly brilliant in the role and delivers with such conviction that the Movie would not the same without him. As well, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson are all also fantastic, making this ensemble truly a masterpiece.
Moreover though, the way the Movie is shot truly is beautiful as well. Whether it is the live action (which accounts for 95% of the Film) or the stories that The Monster tells that are in a refreshing animation style, A Monster Calls weaves together a touching story, with strong performances, and marvelous direction. When you go see this Movie, remember to bring lots of tissue as you will certainly need them.
Universal Pictures Canada release A MONSTER CALLS Friday, January 6, 2017.