Monday, January 16, 2017

[Review] A Monster Calls

I'm just gonna go ahead and say that I made the mistake of forgetting to bring tissues to A Monster Calls. And things got wet.

Based on a novel of the same name, J.A. Bayona (director of The Orphanage, one of my favorite horror films of all time) brings the emotional fable to the big screen, and the result is a dark blend of fantasy and tragedy seen through the eyes of a young boy.

That young boy is Conor (Lewis MacDougall), a doodler and daydreamer who resides in a rainy gray village in England with his mother (Felicity Jones), whose health is deteriorating due to an unnamed type of cancer. One night, a seemingly imaginary Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) that looks like a cross between Treebeard and The Iron Giant, comes to visit Conor and informs him that he's going to tell three stories. The final catch is that Conor has to tell a fourth one.

Like the Monster's deep roots, all the narratives here are intertwined. The three stories essentially unfold as parables for the whirlwind Conor is experiencing in his personal life. These fairytales are rendered in a strikingly layered animation style with emanating flows of melancholy watercolors. And the conception of the Monster itself is largely impressive. Created with a combination of physical construction, motion-capture, and CGI, the fully-realized creature occupies the "real world" with impressive vigor. It's also greatly enhanced by Liam Neeson's perfect voicework. And while the Monster thematically functions as a coping mechanism and a form of release for Conor, the film never sugarcoats his heartache and the pains his mother is going through. It's okay to dwell in sadness, and it's okay to unleash anger. "If you need to break things, by God, you break them" his mother says.

A Monster Calls is about the importance of truth. The hurdles of acceptance and letting go. The impact of strong visuals and the power of movies--especially when they reflect reality.

* 8.5/10 *

Be sure to Like Fade to Zach on Facebook!
And Follow me on Twitter: @Fade_to_Zach

No comments:

Post a Comment