A Monster Calls: Excellently Empathetic

When I first heard of a movie called A MONSTER CALLS, I wrote it off as being something I wouldn’t be interested in seeing. I thought it was yet another of the live action fairy tales that Hollywood rolls out a few times a decade to simply take up space at the box office, giving families something to watch (not necessarily enjoy).

I should not have prejudged. I should have paid better attention to what critics were saying, making it one of the top rated films of 2016.

A MONSTER CALLS is a phenomenal film, taking its viewers on an excellently crafted journey of emotional growth.

Lewis MacDougall wonderfully brings to life the character of Conor, too old to be called boy, too young to be called a man, and yet, old enough to deal with the fallout of having living with a single mother who is dealing with incredible levels of sickness, finding little long-term solace in her treatments. He and Felicity Jones work well together, as if they really were a family dealing with a tough situation. Sigourney Weaver play’s the young mother’s only living parent, cold to her grandchild as he tries to deal with helping her daughter through the struggles of illness.

One night, the eponymous monster emerges and tells young Conor that he is there to start a process of telling him three different tales, and after the third, it will be Conor who must share with the monster a story of his own, detailing his nightmare. As we progress through the three stories, and through Conor’s, we journey through his processing of grief and his feelings towards his mother’s illness. By the time the credits roll, we understand more fully the journey that not only he went through, but his mother and grandmother. Tears are shed, but the journey is such a beautifully told tale that it’s worth the trip and the sadness.

Just in case there was any doubt as to the seriousness they brought to the film, just know that they cast Liam Neeson as the Monster. Not just as the voice-over, but if you watch the special features, you’ll see that he also did the motion capture to help bring it to life. You’ll also find in those special features that they brought on a dozen or more special effects artists to bring aspects of the Monster into the physical world, not just relying on CGI.

Phenomenal film. I should not have doubted the reviews that proclaimed how good it was, but alas, they were right, it was really, really good.

My rating: 92 out of 100

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