Deeply emotional, ‘A Monster Calls’ is an honest, well acted, beautiful film about dealing with a seriously ill loved one and their potential death in the near future. This is one of the best films released in 2017 that I doubt many have heard of which is a real shame as this film is, in every sense of the word, a work of art.
The story follows Connor (Lewis MacDougall), a quiet child dealing with his Mother’s terminal illness whilst being bullied at school. Seeking the help of a tree monster (Liam Neeson) he learns how to deal with his emotions and eventually tackle his inner demons and confront the truth. The story is so well executed and the supporting cast including Connor’s Mum (Felicity Jones) and Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) are both outstanding here, helping to elevate the plot that so easily could have ended up as cliched or cheesy.
There’s some interesting visual design here as well; re-imagining The Monster’s fairy tales with watercolour and animation is enough to break up the moody, dull palette that dominates this film. Along with symbology nestled throughout, the blending of The Monster scenes with “real life” is actually done in a very convincing way and having read up a little bit more on this film, there are also other things I hadn’t noticed before that makes me willing to re-watch this one to spot them out.
With all the great acting here, it’s worth pointing out Connor is in a league of his own in this film. His emotionally charged performance is absolutely incredible from start to finish and the entire third act of the film is simply sublime. It delivers a satisfying climax to the emotional roller coaster the characters go on in dealing with their grief whilst also doing it in a realistic way.
It’s just such a shame that the studio faffed around with the release date of this one as with some decent marketing and exposure to the mainstream, more people cold be raving about this film. As it happens, A Monster Calls will always be one of the best films from 2016/2017 (depending on what side of the pond you live in!) that no one has seen and that for me, is a real shame. I highly recommend this film, just be prepared for some teary moments!