Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Lewis MacDougal, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, Oliver Steer, Liam Neeson, Dominic Boyle, Jennifer Lim, Max Gabbay, Morgan Symes, Max Golds, Frida Palsson, Wanda Opalinska, Patrick Taggart, Geraldine Chaplin, Lily Rose Aslan Dogdu.
The prospect of losing someone so very close to us is perhaps the most primal feeling we can possess, it consumes us inside and out, it makes us say words we don’t mean and commit actions that are beyond what we would normally consider respectable. To face up to that day when we lose a parent is perhaps even more consuming, never mind if we actually get along with them, whether we love them or haven’t spoken for years, to lose the ones that brought you into the world has a devastating effect, especially on a young impressionable mind.
It is in the mind of Conor, a young boy with artistic tendencies who A Monster Calls upon and it is a monster that delivers with him wisdom and terror, the same attributes that have been handed down through his parents and his grandmother, played with superb anguish and distant care by the great Sigourney Weaver.
A Monster Calls is one of those great old fashioned stories that has any audience reaching for their hankies and tearing up inside whilst cheering on the anger dwelling in the young Conor. A film where rejection, where letting go is to be seen as a normal factor of life and the responsibilities to yourself as well as too others is to be seen and felt for the truths they are. It is o.k. to be angry, to lash out at inanimate objects and break things you own if it dispels the anger, the line shown to be drawn that it is your own healing which takes priority, not a clock handed down over the course of a hundred years.
Lewis MacDougal takes loss and anger in his stride and his acts of final vandalism and pain are very much in evidence as he takes on the role of Conor with sympathy and beauty, a momentous ability to work with fellow actors in a way that was arguably last caught by David Bradley in the 1969 film Kes. The endearing nature of his performance is not only mature but innate to us all, we all just need to recognise that it is o.k. to feel pain and loss.
A Monster Calls is a wonderful film performed with simple passion, Sigourney Weaver has rarely been better in such a role and Felicity Jones once more proves there is so much depth to her performance as she takes on the role of Conor’s mum. A quality script delivers these performances and the heart keeps the brain reminded of what can be shown on screen if the detail is kept effortless and with honesty in its soul.
Ian D. Hall