A Monster Calls is one of those films that is better to go in blind so I’ll keep this as spoiler free as possible but blind or not – you should really watch this film!
In general the film deals with a short period of uncertainty in the life of Conor (Lewis MacDougall) and his relations with Mum (Felicity Jones), Dad (Toby Kebbell) and Grandma (Sigourney Weaver).
Very quickly within the film you will understand where the film is going and what it is trying to say but in this case it really isn’t about the destination it’s about the journey and what a journey it is.
My new year’s resolution was to pick up drawing/painting again (I’ll post my first attempt in a comment below) so I was pleasantly surprised to see art playing a key role in the film. Through the use of art the film not only manages to enhance the story but also bind key plot points whilst managing to be consistently enchanting and awe-inspiring.
A simple glance at the monster is enough to understand that the art direction in A Monster Calls is exemplary… even if he does look a lot like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy!
However, once you layer the first class sound design of wood creaking and groaning as well as the haunting voice work of Liam Neeson you can’t help but fall in love with the sensory aspects of the film.
Make no mistake though, this is no Baz Luhrmann or Zach Snyder film where style trumps substance, this is a film which will dig its claws into your soul assuming you have a shred of humanity to you.
I have to admit the film didn’t start off that way and although things happen quickly the start does feel comparatively slow but by the time Conor gets to Grandma’s house and accidentally breaks one of her clocks I had a moment of realisation: “oh shit! I’m hooked”.
The story builds and builds to its finale and manages to be almost unbearably sad and touching yet hopeful and uplifting. It’s a brilliant piece of schadenfreude. Bring your tissues.
The script tries to force in some “natural” lines of dialogue between Conor and the monster but this is no natural relationship so these redundant lines come with some flat delivery. Thankfully they are few and far between and other than that there is very little to dislike about this incredible film.
It’s a film that is reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth due to its fairy tale nature and also of Kubo and the Two Strings due to its exploration of psychologically. In short don’t expect sci-fi horror like The Day of the Triffids but do expect a few hours of terrific.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Beautiful art
+ Liam Neeson
+ Grandma’s house
– I might be Groot!
– Slow start
– A couple of flat bits of dialogue