Sunday, January 1, 2017

Awards Contenders In Brief - A Monster Calls

Look, a boy's best friend is his mother, so when your movie is about a young boy whose mother is dying of cancer, that's pretty much a guaranteed tear-jerker from my perspective. But even still, J.A. Bayona's A Monster Calls is a film of such uncommon beauty that it deserves praise. I don't even really particularly care how well the film holds together because it does an absolutely tremendous job of earning the tears it so effectively rings in the last fifteen minutes or so.

A large part of that is due to the great performances from Felicity Jones (as said cancer-stricken mother) and Lewis MacDougall. MacDougall in particular is just perfect, getting the frustrated, conflicted heart of this kid who only fully comprehends what is going on (both within and outside of himself) subconsciously. Jones is heartbreaking; her fragile beauty has never been put to better use, and the strength she manages to project from her increasingly weakened body makes it all the more emotional when she finally has to tell her son that she isn't long for this world. It is an absolutely heart-wrenching scene, and couldn't possibly be better written or performed. I was an absolute puddle from that point on.

The basic story is this: Young Conor's mother has cancer. Unable to cope with the constant pain and upheaval (Dad has moved to America, Grandma is cold in that traditional English way, and Mum is constantly sick), he brings to life a monster out of a yew tree situated on a nearby church graveyard. The monster (perfectly voiced by Liam Neeson) says he will tell the boy three stories, and that in exchange, Conor must tell him one - his own. The visual effects work and animated sequences for the monster's stories are some of the most stunningly imagined scenes in recent memory - the raw beauty of this film is just out of this world. Bayona is perfectly attuned to Patrick Ness's story, choosing the best way at every level to film it. Maybe I'm being a bit overly complimentary because of the emotion the film wrung out of me (at the end of my screening, I cried out to no one in particular, tears streaming down my face, "Give it ALL THE AWARDS, dammit!"), but that it managed to do so so effectively and honestly is something worth celebrating.


  1. UGH, this movie is going to ruin me. I'm planning on seeing it soon...and I just bought the'm prepared to be a puddle for weeks.

  2. Ahhh I really want to see this, but I know it's going to absolutely ruin me. I'm holding on till I can see it at home and ugly cry without worry!

  3. I can't watch this, I cried in the preview I'll be a sobbing mess in the actual movie. lol