A Monster Calls (2017)
Director: J. A. Bayona
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
2016 was the year that the family film made a huge comeback for me. I got the fun live action remake of The Jungle Book, the gorgeous and magical Kubo and the Two Strings, I found myself misty eyed by Disney's other remake of the year in Pete's Dragon, and Taika Waititi made me cry from laughter with Hunt for the Wilder People. The one thing that all these films had in common, and what made me love them so, was the fact that they never pandered to the audience. Just because they were films for the family to watch together didn't mean they had to pull any punches. They dealt with tough themes of love, death, and what family really means to us without ever dumbing it down or simplifying. When I first saw the trailer for A Monster Calls I was excited because it seemed to fall in line with the aforementioned films. Well was I correct in my assumption? Lets dive right in and find out!
Young Conner is having a hard time. He is having nightmares, being bullied at school, his mother is on the losing side in her battle with cancer, and consequently he is having to move in with his strict grandmother. All this comes crashing to a head though when one night a monster comes calling.
Well was I right in my assumption? I'm happy to report no. Yes you read that right: no. You see A Monster Calls simply blows the other movies out of the water. It has honestly become one of my favorite films of all time. Performances are absolutely pitch perfect in the truest sense of the phrase, and Bayona's brilliant direction is present in every single frame. We deal with the same adult themes juxtaposed through a child's lens but the story connects straight to your heart no matter your age. The film is a lot like its protagonist Conner: Quiet, reserved, and, contemplative. Yet when its imagination is let loose, it positively soars. Without a doubt this is spectacular film-making from start to finish.
Trivia from IMDB for A Monster Calls:
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2013 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.
The novel was originally started by Siobhan Dowd. Though it was unfinished because of her untimely death, Patrick Ness finished the book with credits to her idea.
Affecting an English accent was second nature to Sigourney Weaver since her mother was British.