A Monster Calls

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Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls. (Black Sheep Productions)
Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls. (Black Sheep Productions)


A Monster Calls


4/5 Stars


12-year-old Conor attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.


Childhood is for most a carefree time that grownups often reminisce about with fondness when we reach adulthood. However, for some childhood can be soured when they are struck by the loss of a loved one. Dealing with grief and death at any age is tough as nothing can ever prepare one for that. When you're a child it strips you from being  carefree and innocent when you learn that life can be cruel and filled with pain. It forces a child to be a grownup prematurely.

A Monster Calls is a coming of age story of a different kind. Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is a twelve year old boy who knows that life isn’t always sweet. His young mom (Felicity Jones) is battling cancer, he is being bullied at school, he doesn't get along with his strict grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and his dad (Toby Kebbel) lives in Los Angeles with a new family. Life just sucks for him. 

To escape his reality he gets lost in his imagination through his drawings. One night the giant tree outside his bedroom window transforms into a monster (voiced by Liam Neeson). The monster promises to tell him three stories and thereafter tells Conor that he will have to tell the monster a story too. The stories teach Conor valuable life lessons which in turn helps him deal with his anger, desolation and pain.

These stories also add depth to the plot as it explores themes of good versus evil and eloquently expresses that life is not black and white, but shades of grey. Newcomer MacDougall is the star of the show, he gives a brave performance of a child dealing as best he can with the challenges that life has thrown at him at a young age. 

This is a very tough movie to watch and the themes are too dark for younger children. Despite it being a very sad film to watch it triumphs at dealing with emotions in its very honest portrayal of grief and loss making it a must-see. It will tug at the heartstrings, make you shed a tear or two and then go hug a loved one. 


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