A Monster Calls

This is a creative little film about how children try to cope with life that involves love, marital entanglements, tragedy and death.

a-monster-callsLet me begin by stating without qualification that this stimulating film is not for any kids younger than teenagers. It centers on a 12-year-old boy trying to endure the trauma of watching his single mother struggle with advancing cancer and chemotherapy, and I can guarantee that most of you will have tears in your eyes as the movie comes to an uplifting, yet crushing climax.

To begin with, young Louis MacDougal plays Conner, and he gives a marvelous performance as a lad confronting the possible loss of his mother while facing constant bullying at school. In the process, no young actor has dominated a movie with this range and flair other than Sunny Pawar in Lion.

As Conner desperately seeks some guidance through his troubled existence, he imagines himself in a mystical world dominated by a monster (voiced by the gifted Liam Neeson) that resembles a large, sinister tree with protruding vines. The monster tells Conner three stories after which Conner has to relate his own story centering on a nightmare, and a tale unfolds that is as heartbreaking as anything you will see on the screen.

Felicity Jones, justifiably admired for her role in Rogue One, plays Conner’s mother and Sigourney Weaver appears as his grandma. Ms. Jones is bedridden throughout the entire film, and you watch her battle for life as various chemical treatments fail. In a very moving scene, she grabs her teary-eyed son’s hand and tells him that she wishes she could live 100 years to be with him.

Ms. Weaver, an actress that I greatly admire, begins as a grandma who is not close to Conner. However, as his mother fades, Conner has to come to grips with a world that is not always fair, and that includes allowing his grandma a place in his young heart.

As those of you who read my reviews clearly know, I am a guy who cries easily in movies. As A Monster Calls, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, comes to a close, nearly all of the audience remained in their seats without moving. I sensed that they were all like me, and were left trying to dry their eyes before venturing out into the public.

I found this to be a captivating film that you should take the time to hunt down. See what you think as you walk to your car.