By Jay Hunter – There’s a huge Denis Villeneuve shaped shadow cast over Hollywood at the moment, the Arrival director is dominating the headlines as the next exciting super-director. Whilst J.A Bayona is going somewhat under the radar, between The Orphanage and the upcoming Jurassic World sequel, Bayona has squeezed in a delightful picture in the form of A Monster Calls.
Starring Liam Neeson (Liam Treeson?) as the performance capture and voiceover of the title creature, Monster is a visually spectacular drama. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall), dealing with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) sickness, a less-than-compassionate grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), and bullying school peers, finds an unlikely ally when a monster appears at his bedroom window. Varnished, overrun, and unyielding, the creature guides Conor on a journey of bravery, conviction, and truth.
Based on the book by Siobhan Dowd, who pertinently created the story as she was dying of cancer; Monster is a tale that slides effortlessly between fantasy and it’s more grounded themes. Boasting a sophisticated performance from Lewis MacDougall, it’s impossible not to feel uplifted yet utterly crushed by the tale of transitioning into adulthood and finding ones identity. It would of been easy for this movie to be another feel good, one-dimensional kids movie but to his credit, Bayona takes tones from the likes of The Orphanage and Pans Labyrinth creating an adult fairytale with some hard home truths.