maandag 11 december 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 127: A Monster Calls

Director: J.A. Bayona
Genre: Drama/ Fantasy
Runtime: 108 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell

Description: A boy (Lewis MacDougall) seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's (Felicity Jones) terminal illness.

Review: Your own fantasy to escape reality and all the misery in your life. To make life more bearable, kids are even more capable then adults to let their free spirit speak. Many films and books have these themes and it often happens in a very subtle way. Look at modern fairytales “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz”. it’s often the adults that disturb the dream. In “A Monster Calls” there is something different happening. A bullied boy tries to cope with his mother’s illness and thanks to her, he can escape reality for a while.
Almost every night it happens: the 13 year old Conor O’Malley wakes up in sweat, after having that some scary nightmare. In this dream he sees the church across his house collapse and his mother disappears in the hole that appears. Conor can’t save his mom. In real life, his mother is battling an aggressive form of cancer.
In school Conor’s life isn’t any better, because he is the center of attention for the bullies. The only thing that keeps him going is his art, he makes the most amazing drawings. One night, at seven minutes past twelve, Conor sees the tree across his house come to life and turn into a nameless monster. He shall tell Connor three stories, but the fourth story has to be Connor’s. It’s an adaptation of the children’s book by Patrick ness. Director J.A. Bayona doesn’t sugarcoat things, just because it targets a younger audience. Conor’s life is pretty miserable at the moment. It’s not only a very sick mother and the bullying. Conor also has to deal with a grandmother he can’t get along with and a father that is hardly every around and started a new family in the US. That tree coming to life is just as scary as the harsh reality Conor has to deal with very day.
Because of this, “A Monster Calls” is a drama, with fantasy elements. The visuals are subtle and sober, but it looks stunning. The young lead, playing Conor, has a tough task. He basically has to carry this film. And he did a pretty good job. The fact that Conor feels alone in this battle is well portrayed.
“A Monster Calls’ shows how strong the power of imagination can be and how it can help you in the most awful situations. It’s a beautiful film.

Rating: 4/ 5

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