‘A Monster Calls’ is a dark fantasy about a tree-like apparition that visits troubled child Conor O’Malley each night. Caught between the bullies at school and a sick mother at home, the towering monster challenges Conor’s pent-up rage with a promise. He will tell him three stories so as to help him, but only if Conor supplies him with a fourth – a unique tale of his own.
'A Monster Calls' straddles the divide between unflinching adult-themes and child-like innocence.
By blending live action with breath-taking animation, ‘A Monster Calls’ straddles the divide between unflinching adult-themes and child-like innocence. Like the very best fairy tales, this film does not shy away from painful truths but actually excels because of them.
Similar to last year’s ‘The Iron Giant’ the entire cast here deliver a movie for the ages, whose insight will last long beyond its release date. With Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver in the lead roles, and a pleasingly affectionate performance by Toby Kebbell, ‘A Monster Calls’ has found another child star in Lewis MacDougall as Conor. Never tripping into unwarranted melodrama, his measured performance (much like the film itself) stays grounded in the roots that the monster lays down in his nightly tales.
Unlike Spielberg’s ‘Big Friendly Giant’, the arrival of this movie’s colossus doesn’t seek to invoke magic borne on childlike wonder. This is a darker side of cinematic childhood. Rooted in real-world issues that ask deeper questions of its young ward (much like Benicio Del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’), ‘A Monster Calls’ will hopefully return to our screens time and time again to regale us with its beautifully realised truths.1