A MONSTER CALLS

★★★★★

Starring Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Toby Kebbell
Directed by J.A. Bayona
2016 / 108 Minutes / Focus Features

A Monster Calls is one of the best books I’ve read and the movie adaptation is now on my list as one of the year’s best films! It’s a tear-jerking story about a young boy who is visited by a tree monster during a very difficult time in his life. It’s a heavy film that stays true to the book. They could have really messed this one up, but the translation to screen is successful and I can’t imagine anything better.

J.A. Bayona (The Impossible) was the perfect choice to direct this. He brought this amazing book to life with a spectacular vision. Patrick Ness adapts his novel perfectly to the big screen. What was left out of the book wasn’t missed and what was added worked even more. The animated sequences are stunning and the monster was brought to life by superb visual effects. It’s an emotional dramatic film that is dark at times, but balanced so well with the fantasy that it doesn’t bring the film down.

It’s a difficult role for a child with a lot of the movie riding on his shoulders, but newcomer Lewis MacDougall in the lead role is fantastic! He perfectly encompasses this character with all of his struggles, anger and grief. His performance is one of the best of the year. Liam Neeson as the voice of the tree monster is also perfection!

A Monster Calls is visually breathtaking. It’s profound, moving and a stunning achievement in filmmaking. For anyone who has dealt with such loss and grief this is a healing and powerful film that will stay with you long after.

Grade A

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