To be honest I wasn’t really that hyped up for this, because of how crowded January is. There was stuff I’d been looking forward to for months like Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. The trailers probably didn’t do it enough justice to be honest, it looked like standard fare children’s drama
The story revolves around Conor Lawler of around 12 years old, a young boy has the ordeal of coping with bullying at school and the impending threat of his mothers terminal cancer claiming her life. He’s encountered by an enormous humanoid tree monster who vows to tell Conor 3 stories, after then Conor must tell his story, his truth as the monster calls it which is in fact a nightmare Conor had been having for some time.
It’s director J.A. Bayona’s intention for people to understand this film as using fantasy as a vessel to understand reality and to be brave enough to tell the truth. It’s an affecting coming of age drama with some tender moments that didn’t involve me the way I wanted it to. My biggest problem with it was I didn’t really connect with many of the characters, and that’s a shame because the story itself is fascinating. The audience I was with was invested enough as I could hear some people sobbing behind me.
The visual effects are impressive enough and the water colour sequences that are used to tell the stories told by Liam Neeson’s tree monster are wonderful. I just found the movie to be manipulative at times especially in it’s most tender moments. It’s attempts at humour fell flat for me too.
The performances are fine for the most part, the film’s star Lewis Mcdougall really shines here especially in the films most powerful moments. Sigouney Weaver’s British accent is pretty questionable however, she was probably miscast If I’m honest. Felicity Jones and Toby Kebbell provide fine work as Conor’s parents who both lend more than enough support to ease Conor’s struggle through his trying times.
Not just for kids but for those who’ve dealt with a similar circumstance with losing those to terminal illnesses, this’ll hit home for them. Emotionally I was unexpectedly distant, perhaps if I was watching this with children it would’ve hit me with the emotional power it should have. All in all I’d still recommend it, was not a waste of time for me at all.
86% based on 212 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes reads: A Monster Calls deftly balances dark themes and fantastical elements to deliver an engrossing and uncommonly moving entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre