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Review: A Monster Calls (2016)

Review: A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls (2016)

From a professional perspective, A Monster Calls (2016) may not be a masterpiece. But, I am going to praise it highly. The film follows Conor (Lewis MacDougall), a young boy whose mother has been diagnosed with a terminal illness but finds comfort in a tree monster. This film is relatable for many people. We have all been the child in a family dynamic, facing the difficulties brought about by growth. It’s no wonder that I cried several times when watching film.

A while ago, I watched Birdman (2014). Now, I recall the demon-like film critic from the film and I keep reminding myself, even though I may watch more films and read more film criticism than the average viewer, I am, firstly, an audience member and ordinary movie fan. I don’t want to become cold and harsh because I have expertise. If I turn myself into a machine that can only use professional knowledge to analyze film, then I will lose the ability to be touched by it – which is horrible. Could I still be called a living person then?

Even from a critical perspective, A Monster Calls is a good quality film. It has rich camera language and a smooth narrative. It has perfectly made animation. I can clearly feel the multiple forces at work on the characters and the audience – reality, imagination, school bullying, life and death. One of the reasons why I was so moved was the great acting of the mother (Felicity Jones) in the film. If I hadn’t checked the cast list, I would never have been able to tell that I was watching Felicity Jones.

A few years ago, I happened to watch A Monster Calls when it was broadcast on TV. The film left a deep impression on me, even until now. I am glad that I encountered the film at that time and that it made me feel and think deeply. When the theme of this issue was announced – Cinephilia – I dug out this review. I feel that what I wrote is also in line with the theme, a love of film because this film reminded me of everything I love about film. The passion for films will persist!

Written for The Film Dispatch by Yudong Liu. 


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