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12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) has a lot on his plate. His mother (played by Felicity Jones) is terminally ill, his relationship with his father (played by Toby Kebbell) is strained, his grandmother (played by Sigourney Weaver) is formidably strict and he is being bullied by a boy at school.
Late one night, things take a strange turn for Conor when a tree-like Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) appears at his window. The Monster says he will tell Conor three stories in exchange for Conor telling his story.
The stories the Monster tells are magical and tragic, revealing important lessons about human nature to Conor. Finally, it is Conor’s turn to tell his story. He must confront his deepest hidden demons so that he can understand and overcome the challenges of the adult world.
What do we think?
A Monster Calls is a real hidden gem. It was unfairly unnoticed when it was released in cinemas, despite receiving critical acclaim. It’s an enchanting, fantastical family adventure film that is not afraid to tackle important and challenging subjects.
As with his previous film, The Impossible, director J.A. Bayona has created a moving and inspiring film. It boasts a phenomenal cast, from veteran stars Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson, to newcomer Lewis MacDougall, who is a talent to watch in years to come. But it is Felicity Jones who provides the emotional heart of the film as Conor’s terminally ill mother, it is very poignant watching her tale unfold.
A Monster Calls is refreshingly unconventional, it carves its own path in the crowded coming-of-age movie market. This is a film about what happens when children must face the harsh realities of the grownup world, their coping mechanisms and ultimately, their resilience. It’s about family, friendship and the power of the imagination; a fairy-tale for modern times.
A Monster Calls trivia
- The theme park featured in the film is Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
- Liam Neeson completed his motion capture performance as the Monster before the main filming for the movie began.
- Sigourney Weaver’s English accent came naturally to her as her mother was British.
- The film is adapted from the novel by Patrick Ness, but the original idea came from writer Siobhan Dowd. Ness picked the idea up after Siobhan Dowd sadly died before completing the novel.
- The film has been nominated for numerous awards and recently won the Empire award for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
- Director J.A. Bayona’s next project is the as yet untitled sequel to Jurassic World.