A Monster Calls

“Signs my movie obsession is a problem: the feeling when I’m walking up to the theater and wondering what I’m doing. Do I really wanna see this? Why did I make this choice? Is it really worth the money I just spent? But I can’t turn around because I already Fandango-ed my ticket. That feeling comes up way more often than it should. Thankfully, this was one of those times where that turned around and afterwards I was happy with my life choices. And happy that Panda Express was next door.

In this movie, a young boy is dealing with the looming loss of his terminally ill mother (Felicity Jones), the one person he connects with in a world full of bullies and abandonment. To help him cope, a large arboreal monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) begins visiting the child, telling him allegorical stories that teach him what he needs to get thru this period. Yeah, it’s heavy, not exactly one to lift your spirits, but there was this sort of macabre beauty to it.

The key to all of this was the stories the monster tells, for two reasons. One is that the animation for those (the rest of the film was live action) was stunning. They were more of an old school style, and looked like watercolors, something we haven’t seen on the big screen in ages. But more importantly than the visuals, the stories portrayed humans as murky individuals, not black and white when it comes to their motives. There is both good and bad in everyone, and someone who is mostly good can do bad things and vice versa. It was something that the child needed to be taught, and frankly, something that all of us need to remember as well.

I’ve noticed that in a lot of my posts, I end with saying who should see the movie. I’ve never been one for blanket recommendations, but it’s gotten much more specific lately. This one is no different. I feel that this movie is appropriate for anyone who is dealing with or anticipating loss, and would be particularly valuable for children around the same age as the boy. The biggest lesson of the film is that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, and that’s one that’s not taught often enough.

A Monster Calls – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

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