A Monster Calls – 4 out of 5
The trailer for A Monster Calls looked incredibly interesting when I first saw it. Yes, a giant tree monster is appealing to me but the trailer was edited so well that it really sold a promise of an emotional story. This one looked like a complete and total tear-jerker and I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to have a good cry. Anyway, so recently I sat down with this one and it really delivered on everything the trailer promised.
|I'm not going to make any Groot jokes...because that would offend any Ents reading.|
Struggling with the fact his mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer, that his father (Toby Kebbell) lives extremely far away, and that his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is looking to take custody of him should the dreaded occur, Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) suddenly finds himself visited by a large tree monster in the middle of the night. The monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) proclaims that he will give him three stories during the various visits and that one day he will demand Conor tell him a story and admit to him the truth behind the reoccurring nightmare he is having—a truth Conor isn’t ready to face.
|This kid has the "Not Effin' Around" stare down!|
|She's faced down an alien queen, she can handle|
a grandson and his tree monster friend.
After watching this film I struggled to come up with a score. I was torn between a 4 and a perfect score of 5 because the film is really good. The story is captivating, the themes and exploration of loss is fantastic, the special effects are awesome, the presentation is striking and the performances are top shelf stuff. I will grant that the film did take a little bit to hit its stride but once the momentum was going it didn’t stop. The only thing that really ended up having an impact on my decision was the fact that the replay value on this movie might be low for me. This film struck some chords in me that had me digging up some feelings from when I lost my father and it made for a final act that was extremely emotionally exhausting. For all intents and purposes, I absolutely loved this film but the tears and emotions that it raised towards the end might not be something I wanna experience too often.
|Seriously, the flow of tears was astounding with this one.|
|Oh, if only I had a giant tree monster when I was|
The most striking element of this film and one that really resonated with me was how the film dared to explore the emotions and tribulations a person goes through when they are watching a love one suffer and succumb to a tragedy—in this case, someone dying of cancer. Often when fatal illnesses are plot points in a story they belong to the main character and are the focal point. Even when the focus of the story is about those around the person suffering, they rarely ever ask the questions that are considered taboo in these situations. Society tells us that a person supporting someone who is suffering from something isn’t allowed to be a victim of any kind, that you’re not allowed to feel defeated by what is happening because you aren’t the one sick or dying. Society tells us that feeling this is terrible and you’re a selfish person but, in reality, you’re just being human. A Monster Calls dares to explore these ideas, feelings and emotions. It dissects the pain that this ordeal is causing on Conor and how his experience is making him desire things that we tell ourselves is wrong to feel. It was incredibly moving and something refreshing to see in a film about loss and acceptance.
|"He's right behind me, isn't he?"|
A Monster Calls is truly an amazing film that is telling a story that is not afraid to be dark but hopeful and bright at the same time. It dares to address subjects we don’t like to talk about and it does so through a CG tree monster interacting with a schoolboy. It’s dramatic, haunting, beautiful, somber, tender and deeply emotional and engaging. It definitely left an impact on me and not just on the feels (as the kids say) but the way it was acted and constructed had me very impressed.