The Movie: A Monster Calls
The Director: J.A. Bayona (The Impossible)
The Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, and Toby Kebbel
The Story: A mythical tree monster comes to the aid of a boy who is struggling with the reality of losing his mom to a terminal condition.
This story was originally conceived by British children's book author Siobhan Dowd who passed away from a terminal illness before being able to see the idea fully realized. Author Patrick Ness was eventually tasked with completing the project and went on to adapt the screenplay that became this movie. J.A. Bayona has done a masterful job at bringing this emotionally powerful story to life while maintaining a dark and mystical tone that is reminiscent of Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth which is one of my all time favorite films. Bayona also continues to prove he can get some really great performances out of young talent including Roger Príncep in The Orphanage, Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War) in The Impossible, and now Lewis MacDougall in this film.
Along with MacDougall, we also get some excellent work from Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, and Felicity Jones who continues to establish herself as one of the most talented young women in the industry today. Even though this movie is fundamentally a fairy tale story, the cast provides the family with a firm sense of reality which is where the majority of the heart and emotion comes from. Liam Neeson provides the voice for the tree monster and his deep, gravelly tone was an absolutely perfect choice to fill the role. It's interesting how we never see him on screen yet his performance is a constant presence throughout every moment of the film and he adds so much to what is already a fantastic story.
A Monster Calls is a very well thought out story that hits all the right emotions while carefully and thoughtfully exploring the difficulties of losing someone you love. Visually, the film is dark and is stunning to look at thanks to the use of multiple types of artistic themes. Losing a family member is always a tough thing to deal with and watching this story play out on screen drew more than a few sniffles and tears from the audience so I would have to say job well done to the cast and director.