A Monster Calls
A MONSTER CALLS (12)
D: J.A. Bayona
Focus Features/River Road/Participant Media (Belén Atienza, Mitch Horwits & Jonathan King)
W: Patrick Ness [based on his novel]
DP: Oscar Faura
Ed: Bernat Vilaplana
Mus: Fernando Velazquez
Lewis MacDougall (Conor O'Malley), Felicity Jones (Elizabeth Clayton), Sigourney Weaver (Grandma Clayton), Toby Kebbell (Mr. O'Malley), Liam Neeson (voice of The Monster)
A Monster Calls is an incredibly sweet fantasy drama which probably falls between two stools of being a little too unsuitable for young children and being the product of a marketing campaign that won't appeal to adults.
The fantasy element in this story draws similarities with Pan's Labyrinth, in which they take place in a child's imagination.
The child of this film is Conor O'Malley, a bullied schoolboy whose mother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and they are living in his grandmother's house who Conor views as a stern, unlikeable woman. Shortly after midnight, Conor is visited by a tree monster who says he will share three stories with him and in return wants to hear the secrets of Conor's worst nightmare.
The stories which the monster tells are shown with brilliant animation, and offer a moral which help Conor deal with the domestic and social issues that he struggles with and help him better come to terms with the impending loss of his mother.
Though the film may have been poorly marketed, it still offers a lot to enjoy: a good script, striking visuals, great performances (especially from Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones) and a strong coming-of-age message. The film yielded a modest box office return but has gone on to amass a small cult following. Personally, I recommend it heavily.