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Title :A Monster Calls (2016)
Rating :7.6/10
Release : 6 January 2017 (USA)
Genre : Drama, Fantasy
Runtime:1h 48min
Country:USA
Language:English
Director:J.A. Bayona
Writers:Patrick Ness
Stars : Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones

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A Monster Calls (2016) trailer

A Monster Calls (2016) review

The entire time I’ve been writing about movies, there has been one type of which I feel most protective: heartfelt movies that feature children but are really more for adults and tend to struggle at the box office, as a result.

These movies — “Fairytale: A True Story,” “Mud,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “The Little Princess,” “The Secret of Roan Inish” — tend to have long tails, often finding extended life on home video. That’s when I’m obligated to say, “Please check them out,” even though I know those movies were most magical when they were in theaters.All of which is a roundabout way of saying this: Yes, “A Monster Calls” is about a child and it’s suitable for young audiences, but its themes are likely to be more of interest to adults. It’s fantastic and you should go see it right now.
Based on Patrick Ness’ book, “A Monster Calls” features one of those gravely resourceful children who always seem to be at the center of these movies. Gifted newcomer Lewis MacDougall is Conor, whose father is out of the picture, whose mother (Felicity Jones, from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) is ill and who, as a result, may be forced to move in with his brittle grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). Conor uses his imagination to grapple with those adult-sized problems, both by drawing what he feels and by having regular conversations with a tree that, in the voice of Liam Neeson, appears to frighten Conor and offer him advice.

Tone is everything in this sort of movie, and director/co-writer J.A. Bayone — whose “The Orphanage” existed in a somewhat similar atmosphere — nails it. Wondrous but grounded, “A Monster Calls” shifts back and forth between Conor’s real world and his dream world and, because he doesn’t get enough sleep most of the time, they sometimes blur. For instance, when we follow him to school, we hear his teachers but never see their faces. That not only creates a “Charlie Brown”-like sense of isolation but it also makes it feel almost like Conor is sleepwalking through real life so he can get back to the dream life that seems to hold the answers for him.

The movie has a keen sense of how it feels to be a clever kid whose cleverness isn’t enough to help him understand the behavior of the adults in his life. It’s also a poignant story about grief, with a beautifully written final scene for Jones and MacDougall and an inspiring message about how art can help us make sense of our world.

That last theme drives the film to its finale, in which drawings, sculptures and even family photos all come together to help Conor along. In fact, that theme is there from the ominous opening line: “It begins like so many stories: With a boy too old to be a kid/too young to be a man, and a nightmare.”

I don’t care if you’re an adult or a child. Who wouldn’t want to see that story?

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