Saturday, 14 January 2017


Starrring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall and Liam Neeson. Written by Patrick Ness and based on his book. Directed by J. Bayona. Budget $43 million. Running time 108 minutes. Certificate 12a.

It's January, which can only mean one thing. Tis award season. That time of year where we're spared the usual special effects spectaculars, action flicks and super hero movies and in return given, whether we want them or not, movies with proper stories to tell and souls to reveal, and to that list we can offer up this, A Monster Calls starring two female SF heroines, one old and one new in the guise of Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones, as well as a hard-boiled action hero Liam Neeson and a stunning new young actor Lewis MacDougall.

The film, heart-crushingly poignant, sees young Connor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) struggling to come to terms with a world that is crumbling around him. His parents are divorced and his father (Toby Kebbell) is visiting from the States, his mother (Felicity Jones) is slowly dying of cancer and he is forced to go and live with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) with whom he doesn't get on with. Plus he's being horrifically bullied at school and seems powerless to act or tell anyone. Oh and the ancient Yew tree that lives on top of a nearby hill has transformed into a gigantic terrifying wooden monster (Liam Neeson) who visits Connor over four nights, promising three fairy tales on the first three nights, which are lies, and on the fourth night he tells Connor that the boy will tell a story in return that is true.

Despite being very well acted, well directed and visually stunning I wasn't wholly won over by this and I don't really know why. At its core the relationship between Connor and his mother is wonderful and I found myself wanting to stay longer with them rather than with the other family members who, in my mind, just became frustrating particularly in their inability to see how much pain Connor is suffering and that began to annoy me. Plus, no matter how impressive the monster is, and it is, believe me, it's superb, I found it strangely jarring. You find yourself waiting for its next appearance, but each visit pulls you out of the story and ultimately frustrates because each of the Monster's fairy tales are so annoying (although visually stunning) that they somewhat kill the mood and it takes a while to get back into it once the Monster has gone and Connor's life continues.

Overall I found this a moving and powerful movie and well worth seeing but frustratingly I wasn't won over by it. That said, it sure beats the usual action packed candyfloss spectaculars we're normally given in our wonderful multiplexes so I'm gonna enjoy them for as long as I can.


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