Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell
Age Restriction: 10–12PG
Runtime: 2hrs 28min
Release date: 13 January 2017
Coming-of-age dramas catered towards adolescents and teens are usually campy or light-hearted affairs, but not A Monster Calls– which takes a relatively different approach to the genre.
Based on the novel of the same name, A Monster Calls follows Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) – a socially distant boy who is faced with many problems at such a young age.
Besides being very unsociable; Conor is constantly bullied at school, must deal with his mother Lizzie O'Malley's (Felicity Jones) terminal cancer, is estranged from his father (Toby Kebbell), and is forced to move in with his strict grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) after his mother's illness worsens.
One day, Conor is visited by a giant talking tree monster (Liam Neeson) who promises to tell the former three stories in exchange for a truthful fourth tale from Conor.
The tree monster's stories turn out to be thought-provoking and inspiring, which will forever change Conor's life.
What makes this film relatively different from other coming-of-age dramas is its unusually dark tone. A Monster Calls uses its gloomy mood to tell a story which serves as an eye-opener that will enlighten and inspire viewers.
The impressively well-adapted screenplay delves deep into themes of loss, presumption and self-hatred, along with a captivating plot that will keep viewers glued to the screen.
Overall, director J. A. Bayona has delivered an excellent piece of cinema, along with a memorable coming-of-age drama film.
A Monster Calls features heart-rending emotions that will have most viewers in tears, along with three-dimensional characters that are well-explored.
The cast does an outstanding job, with some standout performances from Neeson, Weaver and MacDougall – who, as the lead, carries the film on his shoulders impressively.
Bayona's film is filled with exquisite, eye-popping visual effects and CGI, particularly the well-rendered surreal tree monster.
Verdict: Thought-provoking, mature, moving, well-acted and compelling; A Monster Calls is an excellently unforgettable coming-of-age drama that soars.