Writer: Patrick Ness (Screenplay) Patrick Ness (Novel)
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, James Melville, Liam Neeson
Plot: A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother’s terminal illness.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Emotional Knock Out Punch
Story: A Monster Calls starts as we meet Conor (MacDougall) a boy who is dealing with his mother’s (Jones) terminal illness by having to take care of himself while still attending school where he finds it hard to concentrate.
Conor’s night gets interrupted by a tree monster (Voiced by Neeson) who has come to tell Conor three stories in exchange for one from Conor. With his mother’s condition only getting worse his grandma (Weaver) wants to offer him a place for when the worst happens.
As the story continues we see how Conor must deal with a change in his life that will be something no child should have to go through as he learns one of the hardest lessons in life.
Thoughts on A Monster Calls
Story – The story here is clear for everyone watching, this is one family a son, mother, grandmother and dad dealing with the impending death of a loved one. We get to see how Conor the son deals with everything in his own way that means he doesn’t get punished for anything, we get to see how the mother must stay strong for her son until the very end and how the grandmother must deal with the upcoming death of her daughter while being the only one there for grandson. This will make you cry it is as simple as that because his is one of the hardest hitting emotional punches you will ever receive.
Fantasy – We are thrown into a fantasy world that Conor creates to help him deal with the tragic events that are happening within his life, we are left to decide for ourselves which side of the story is real or not with the fantasy element too.
Characters/Performance – Conor is a character that we could see in so many situations when a parent is terminally ill, he struggles to find his place when he knows his future but can’t face it. When we look at the adults we get to see the struggling mother with her health, the father who isn’t around and the grandmother who doesn’t really know how to act because she will be losing her daughter but needing to be strong for her grandson. The tree monster is a great character in its own right, even if it is created to help Conor deal with the problems in his life.
When you look at the performance youngest Lewis MacDougall is brilliant in this role going through the full range of emotions while the bigger name actors let him take the centre stage.
Settings – The settings used make us feel like this is just a normal family that has had to deal with its ups and downs but now it will be taking on the biggest down. We don’t get any iconic settings but we get everything we need to feel the pain the characters go through.
Special Effects – The special effects here are brilliant making us fully believe there is in fact a monster with Conor helping him through this difficult time.
Final Thoughts – This is easily one of the most heart-breaking films of the year but shows just how difficult the situation would be for a young boy.
Overall: Bring your tissues to this film that will leave you emotional exhausted by the end.