By Ian Crow
2017 may not have got off to a great start to colleague and friend Ian Morton, but the year has got off to a promising and fantastic start in A Monster Calls. Based on the book of the same name, A Monster Calls centres around a young teen called Conor, who seeks the help of a tree monster to confide his deepest thoughts around the time his mum is battling with a terminal illness. Played by the young actor Lewis MacDougall, the upcoming British talent is the shining light and deserves huge plaudits for his stunning and powerful performance. His balance of emotions and delivery in the film is extremely notable, especially for an actor of his age and for how inexperienced he is on the big screen. What makes his portrayal of his character even more impressive is the subject matter of the character. Unfortunately, he knows this subject all too well as his mother died just shortly before the filming of A Monster Calls. Knowing this, it immediately makes his performance as Conor even more special and remarkable. Hopefully he can continue to channel this energy that he possesses into his future work, because I feel we may have a huge star on our hands.
Directed by J.A Bayona, the Spanish born filmmaker shocked and blew me away with his 2012 film The Impossible. The director empathized with the emotional aspect of those events that happened back in the 2004 tsunami. It’s clever by him to make it a drama, rather than an action epic. Again, he has done it was his new film A Monster Calls. He improves massively from his last film and continues his impressive work by dealing with distressing situations in the most perfect way. Everything about his direction in this movie is inventive, his fresh style of directing really injects that little something that brings the story of the film to life.
Acting alongside MacDougall is the on-form lady Felicity Jones, and with her you have Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell and the voice work from the brilliant Liam Neeson. Every single actor gives a touching performance and is perfect in their roles. Jones plays Conor’s terminally ill mother, as she gracefully gives us a touching and respectful enactment of a dying mum. Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson both give their best performances in a very long time. Even though Neeson’s is voice work, he really brings the monster to life. His iconic deep Irish voice adds that little extra to the monster that no other actor could do and that’s truly bringing the character alive on screen.
A Monster Calls really touched me, especially due to the fact that I lost my own Mother to a terminal illness when I was 14. I thought the film dealt with the situation incredibly well, it doesn’t hide away and try to make it happy in any way, it shows the true feeling of going through a turbulent time in a testing period during your teens. Pulling that off really hit the nail in the head and made me really appreciate and respect what the film was trying to say. Because of that, A Monster Calls is easily one of the best starts to a year that I can remember. Unique and visually remarkable, the film is flawless in its efforts and has already set the bar high for future films in 2017. 5 out of 5 stars.
Read our top 10 films of 2016 here!
Crow’s Top 10 Films of 2016
Top 10 films of the year – The Big Dudes perspective!