Is ‘A Monster Calls’ a monster of a film or does it leave you calling for more?
Connor O’ Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is distraught as he watches his mother (Felicity Jones) suffer from cancer and her treatment and therapy. Suddenly, his world is turned upside-down again by the arrival of The Monster (voice by Liam Neeson), a gigantic being, transformed from a yew tree that sits not far from Connor’s home. He wants only one thing — the truth.
A warning to all those who want to see ‘A Monster Calls’ — bring tissues. I’ve read the source material to the film, a book by Patrick Ness with the same title, so I knew what I was getting myself into. But if watching this film has taught me one thing, it’s that film conjures up so much more emotion than writing, and I wasn’t expecting the wave of emotion I felt watching this film. The director, J. A. Bayona, really pulled it out of the bag with this one.
The entire cast, although reasonably small, gave fantastic performances, especially Lewis MacDougall in the lead role. Unlike a lot of films with child lead roles, you could really sympathise with the character of Connor and this is mostly down to the actor. That said, Felicity Jones was brilliant as Connor’s ill mother and Sigourney Weaver gave a really heart-wrenching performance as his grandmother.
One thing I’m a big fan of in ‘A Monster Calls’ is the score and the lack thereof. This film is full of emotional conversations and scenes, and the last thing these needs is sad orchestra or piano music muffling the voices. The silence in the background just made everything so much more real and so much more sad. I think a good decision from the script writers was not to include any comic relief in the film as I feel it would spoil the emotions that the film causes.
Visually, this film is amazing. Not only the special effects in the form of The Monster, but in some simpler ways, like mesmerising shots of a pencil or a paint brush running across paper (who knew watching paint dry could be so interesting!) There’s also some short animated scenes in the film, done to look like watercolour paintings which, again, are beautiful and yet so simple.
There’s nothing really to criticise with this film — nothing’s held back, it’s a full-blown emotional rollercoaster and I can understand why people are hailing it as the best film of the year, even though it’s the beginning of January. It’s a must-watch for anyone who’s ready the book as it brings a whole new level to the story and characters. For this, it’s got to be a ten-out-of-ten, a simply stunning film with great visuals, cast and, most of all, a tear-jerking plot for all to enjoy.
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