A Monster Calls

Based on the best-selling 2011 book written by Patrick Ness after the death of writer Siobhan Dowd who came up with the original idea, A Monster Calls is an emotionally powerful movie that mixes a tragic story about human suffering and fantastical elements of allegory. The film follows Conor, a 12-year-old boy living in England who must cope with his single mother suffering from a terminal illness. Feeling extremely isolated at home and school where he is bullied, he is visited by a monster in the form of a tree who provides him an outlet for his difficult life. The monster, voiced by Liam Neeson, feels very much part of his vivid imagination and is inspired by his love for drawing creatures. The appearance of the friendly monster late at night serves as a coping mechanism for Conor as he is subjected to the unfathomable experience of watching his mother, portrayed by Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones, slowly die and without the constant presence of his father. Eventually, the monster forces him to rebell against his school bullies and his less-than-endearing grandmother, played by Sigourney Weaver. The filmmaker crafts an evocative, almost magical story by interspersing fantastical animated sequences that feel as if they jump off the pages of an artistic child’s notebook. It provides a visually spectacular experience that helps to underscore the deeply moving emotions of the suffering characters. Overall, I found it to be a wholly unique movie whose message is ultimately uplifting despite the fact that it can be best described as a tearjerker. The imagery is symbolic of the raw emotions of a child too young to have to go through such profound grief.

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