A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Juan Antonio Bayona (2016)

103min
12A Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Adapting a much-loved, illustrated children's book for the screen can be fraught. Much expansive digital artistry has gone into expanding the Carnegie Medal-winning A Monster Calls by American-born, naturalised-British author Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd) and illustrator Jim Kay into surely the gloomiest children's fantasy of recent years. Sensitive, artistic, bullied 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) must cope with a terminally ill mother (a photogenically ailing Felicity Jones), a teasingly absent father (Toby Kebbell) and an icy grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) in a Brontëan northern English town. An ancient yew tree (voiced by Liam Neeson) creaks to life in a neighbouring graveyard and offers three parables in exchange for a reluctant Conor's own. These exquisitely animated fables offer welcome but fleeting respite from the apocalyptically roiling, corporeal escalations of this Freudian journey through grief. It's hard going but never patronising, even though the book's power as a simply told, adolescent self-help manual loses subtlety once made digital flesh under the gothic direction of Juan Antonio Bayona (who restaged a tsunami in The Impossible). Thankfully, Ness's own hand on the screenplay maintains its emotional core.

Summary

Premiere. Young Conor struggles to deal with his mother's terminal illness, the cold grandmother he has to stay with and the bullying he receives at school. He is woken from a recurring nightmare by the visitation of a tree monster at his bedroom window, telling him a series of stories. In return, Conor must tell the monster the truth behind his dreadful nightmare. Fantasy drama based on the award-winning book by Patrick Ness, starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell, with the voice of Liam Neeson.

Cast & Crew

Conor Lewis MacDougall
Mum Felicity Jones
The Monster Liam Neeson
Grandma Sigourney Weaver
Dad Toby Kebbell
The Head Teacher Geraldine Chaplin
Miss Kwan Jennifer Lim
Mr Clark Ben Moor
Harry James Melville
Sully Oliver Steer
Director Juan Antonio Bayona
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Entertainment OneGuidance: Violence.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 1 Jan 2017
Drama