As we grow older, things change.
We become taller, stronger, and slowly find out what we are truly capable of. And as we leave the confines of childhood and discover our place in the world, we begin to see it for what it truly is.Gone are the notions of stability, replaced by an uncertainty of things that were once thought to be permanent. Friends become enemies, parents who once seemed so strong suddenly seem so fragile, and the safety of imagination gives way to the harshness of reality. It is in this transition, this in-between stage from child to adult, where A Monster Calls takes place.
A film adaption of the book with the same name, A Monster Calls tells the story of one Connor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) as he is pulled from the safety of his childhood fantasies and is forced to realize that life isn't how the stories portray it. Amidst the struggles against the school bully, the absence of his father, and the cold relationship he has with his grandmother, the movie revolves around how he copes with his mother's battle against cancer.
It is at this point in his life that he is visited by a monster in the
form of a humanoid yew tree (Liam Neeson), who decides to tell him three
stories in return for a fourth tale that will come from O'Malley himself. Why
he chooses to tell these stories is uncertain at first, but as the film goes
on, you begin to see this is a tale of reflection rather than outright fantasy.
Though the film starts off by showing Connor's everyday life, the
inclusion of the monster brings out his innermost thoughts through the
dialogues they have together. The yew tree serves as a medium rather than
something that was built for outright destruction (as most monsters are usually
known for), and it is this constant back-and-forth between Connor's life and
his midnight musings that keeps you interested until the end.
The cinematography isn't bad either. From the way the first two tales are told through a paintbrush art style to the camera angles than pan from dream to reality, the way this movie was orchestrated is simple but effective. It doesn't overindulge on special effects or elaborate set pieces, but focuses on telling a story that is worth paying attention to.
For a movie with an otherworldly creature as a main character, A Monster Calls is rooted in some very real topics.
It talks about how humans are fragile, strange creatures and the complications that arise from this. It shows that there isn't a fine line between right and wrong, but that life is full of morally gray areas. Most of all, the film tells us that even though the world may be cruel and unfair, we can still find happiness in acceptance and become better people for it.If you're wondering why I'm not as snide as I usually am while making this review, it's because this movie is so heartfelt and honest that you can't help but fall in love with it.Â
It's a movie that speaks the truth, and includes a lot of memorable lines that resonate with a number of harsh truths we had to learn while growing up. Be it denial, abandonment, or even death, A Monster Calls is a film that helps ease children into adulthood and makes adults reflect on what really matters in life.
You could probably remove my discussions on the cinematography and pass this off as the review for the book, but it only goes to show that the film did the novel justice. It focuses on the story first and foremost, and paints a picture of the struggles that come with being human.It pains me to imagine that this movie will probably be passed off by people because it looks like another children's film when it isn't. Though it does include some fantastical aspects, A Monster Calls uses them to bring out a person's emotions in a way that even children will understand.
Would I recommend this film? Absolutely. Whether you're with a child or not, A Monster Calls will bring you back to your most basic emotions and remind you that the biggest monsters you face are those that come from within.