First off, let me say there are some spoilers. So let me give a brief spoiler-free recommendation and if you care to read on, feel free to do so. This is a profoundly heavy emotional movie. It’s not warm and cuddly like Pete’s Dragon. It is a very mature theme. The acting is top-notch and the special effects along with the cinematography is incredible. Oscar worthy, in my opinion.
Here is a poster of the movie and if you want to avoid spoilers, do not continue below.
This isn’t a horror film, nor is it a psychological thriller. It is a rescue film. Often times we call for the rescue of others when we are the ones needing the rescue. This is what A Monster Calls boils down to.
One of the most beautiful thing about story telling, is through the journey of the stories are lessons that we human beings can relate and connect with. A Monster Calls is a heavy journey of grief. It’s a tale of a boy, Conor, who faces the reality of his mother having terminal illness, along with having to live with a grandmother he doesn’t like, being bullied at school, and not having a present father. So he calls upon a tree monster to help.
However, the monster doesn’t help in the way the boy wants. The monster tells Conor that he will tell him three tales. Each of these tales contain complex morals and paradoxical characters that points to Conor’s own struggles. Afterwards, on the fourth visit, the boy must tell him a story, a true story or the boy will die.
There’s several nuggets to gleam from these stories. I actually would want to see the movie again, or at least read the book in order to fully grasp everything this movie has to offer. I can offer a couple of key points that hit me pretty hard.
Through the tales that he tells the boy, he helps him and the audience see that life is never black and white. “Sometimes there aren’t any good guys, nor is there always a bad guy. Most people fall in between,” the Monster says.
And most importantly, the boy learns that his emotions are completely valid. His mother tells him, “if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud.”
I came away both enchanted and frustrated. Enchanted because of everything I described before. Frustrated because I know there will be those who will disregard the beauty of what A Monster Calls is trying to convey. Shit happens, that’s life. But if we brush all that aside and only expect rainbows, unicorns, and happy endings then I believe that we lose one of the most powerful human connection we have, and that’s empathy.
When the grandmother is rushing with Conor to the hospital due to her time coming to an end, she was stopped by a train. In that moment of frustration of having to deal with a grandson who hates her, she sympathizes with him and ask that he does with her. She tells him that though they have nothing in common, they do have one thing. And that would be his mother. When he jumped to hug her, I fought back some heavy tears.
I’ll be expecting this to be added to the list of Best Picture nominees for the Oscars in the coming weeks.