It is a fantastic piece of cinema that will not just stand as being deeply moving, but one that teaches and explores ideas humans will always find difficult to cope with.
There is no limit to imagination.
Imagination is everything we think of concerning the future. It is all our worries, it is all our plans, it is the minute detail of how we see our own affairs playing out. Without it we would be lost.
Yet, what imagination allows for most importantly is escapism. The ability to release oneself from a boring day, or a long journey and using only the mind transport somewhere visually stunning or downright outrageous. The possibilities are endless.
It is this glance into the imagination of both Patrick Ness and J.A.Bayona, writer and director respectively, that makes A Monster Calls so wonderful. Based on Ness’ own novel, the world he creates with his effortless use of imagery is mesmerising and Bayona only compliments this with a film adapting book to screen seamlessly. The film however, is not set in a different universe or a new kingdom. It is firmly placed within our own world, which makes the fantasy even greater.
The story follows 12 year old Conor (Lewis Macdougall), as he deals with complex issues close to home and close to heart. With his mother suffering from a terminal illness and himself being the victim of constant bullying at school, Conor turns to The Monster, A creature that came out of the night and appeared at his window, for help. The Monster explains of three stories it must tell and that it will return on future nights to do so.
Using a distinct style of animation, both for the stories and The Monster itself, shadows are cast across the film in a very arresting manner and we are dragged into Conor’s world with The Monster. A world of reality, fantasy and resilience. MacDougall’s performance as Conor is breathtaking. His ability to express such distressing emotions whilst staying true to his character is astonishing. Rarely does someone of any age show such strength of character, yet let the undertones and weaknesses seep into his personality.
In fact, the whole cast takes the film as a drama, as what the film deserves. A motion that works beautifully in its own favour. It can be so easy to dismiss something aimed at a younger audience, but the piece treats the audience as one. There aren’t moments ‘for the kids’ or ‘for the adults.’ This is a film rooted in equality and loving. A Monster Calls is to be experienced together but remembered alone. It is a fantastic piece of cinema that will not just stand as being deeply moving, but one that teaches and explores ideas humans will always find difficult to cope with. As The Monster says: “Humans are complicated beasts.”
It is clear that a great deal of detail has been placed expertly into A Monster Calls, without it the film would simply not work. The imagery is ripe and flowing and the dialogue is smooth and lifelike. In truth, in perhaps the most gut-wrenching sequence of the film, Felicity Jones possesses the most poignant of lines:
“I knew everything you wanted to tell me, without having to say it.”