Review: A Monster Calls (2017)


JA Bayona directs Patrick Ness’ adaptation of his own much-loved book into a heartwarming tale about a boy, Conor (Lewis MacDougall), and his struggle with grief in the face of his mother’s illness. He’s visited by a monster (motion captured, voiced by Liam Neeson), who emerges from an old yew tree to impart wisdom and frank honesty about the hardships to come. It’s performed with heartfelt honesty from relative newcomer MacDougall, particularly in scenes that see his character’s emotions come to a head in destructive ways. He’s ably supported by stalwarts Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Neeson, whose voice is a mixture of comforting and sternly instructive. It’s a dark melodrama that’s likely to spark a steady flow of tears from the audience. But there’s cathartic humour there, too, as well as an element of fantasy that Bayona is able to mesh seamlessly with the reality of Conor’s situation. The one true fault is in its inability to end when it should, but that’s minor considering the overall powerful emotional impact the film has.

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