The monster does not come walking often. This time it comes to Conor, and it asks for the one thing Conor cannot bring himself to do. Tell the truth. This is a very touching story about a boy who feels very damaged, guilty and mostly angry. He struggles at school with bullies, and pity looks from everyone, and at home with his mother's sickness. Will Conor overcome his problems? Will everything be okay? Will Conor be able to speak the truth?
Conor is in the same school class as Harry (the bully), who is three or four years older than him. While it might be explained that Harry has been flunked and held back repeatedly, such a statement is never explicitly made. Note to add: children are rarely held back in UK schools - more likely that Harry is either tall or this is a special class on a particular subject that includes children from multiple years. See more »
[having a nightmare]
How does the story begin?
It begins like so many stories. With a boy, too old to be a kid. Too young to be a man. And a nightmare.
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One of the most emotionally powerfully films I've seen in a while
Based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls is one of the most emotionally powerful films I've seen in a long time. Directed by J. A. Bayona, this is a film you'll want to be making sure you have a pack of tissues ready for.
Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) lives at home with his terminally ill mother (Felicity Jones). Bullied relentlessly at school on a daily basis and with no friends, Lewis finds himself spending most of the free time he does have helping his mother.
One night, Conor encounters a monster (Liam Neeson) in the form of a giant yew tree. With the help of the monster, Conor learns a number of valuable life lessons, as well as facing the nightmarish reality he knows will come soon enough.
Reports of A Monster Calls causing audiences to flood theatres with tears during the festival circuit have been well documented however, even they couldn't prepare me for J. A. Bayona's stunningly beautiful film. The warning of emotional distress was even there for all to see as the classification certificate appeared on screen prior to the film.
This is an incredibly moving story, depressing for the most part however, thanks to the fantasy elements of the story and the relationship Lewis has with the monster, it can be strangely uplifting at times. The film packs one hell of an emotional punch towards the end but it doesn't just spring it on the audience because you can sense that is exactly where it's going from the very beginning.
The performances of Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell are all good but there is no debating here that the film ultimately belongs to the young Lewis MacDougall, who manages to deliver a performance that would make you think he's been acting for years, when this is in fact only his second film. MacDougall really makes you empathise with Conor and his performance in the final stages of the film is sensational.
The visuals deserve a special mention as well, the monster in particular brought to life quite brilliantly through special effects and a gruff vocal performance from Liam Neeson. They go hand- in-hand with Bayona's visionary style as a director to make A Monster Calls a must-see film.
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