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A Monster Calls (2016)

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Source: Wikipedia

A Monster Calls (2016)

My Rating: 5

IMDB Rating: 7.5

Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6


Last night Brad and I watched A Monster Calls. As usual with any movie we watch we shared our opinions on social media. Brad simply put up three crying face emojis 😭😭😭 and this conveyed his message perfectly whereas I was a little more vocal.

Well it appears the majority of people are utterly amazed that I was bored by the film so this post is an explanation of what I found wrong with it and with the slight hope you’ll understand and stop being incredulous and ridiculous. I’m also hoping that certain people will read this (they probably won’t) and accept (the definitely won’t) that, as I’ve said way too many times to be polite about it now, people are entitled to their own opinion and just because mine differs from yours, it doesn’t make mine wrong! (BTW: if you’re going to comment and plan to use the words “You’re wrong!” then go fuck yourself. Try “I disagree” or “In my opinion…”

So here goes.

Firstly Lewis MacDougall who plays the young lad Conor. It has been a long time since I’ve seen such incredible acting, regardless of age. Should he choose to follow it he’ll have an amazing and successful career ahead of him.

So, the film. Visually it was stunning. I loved the animation of the Monster although all I could see is Groot and and once that image was in my head it wasn’t leaving.

I enjoyed the animation of the stories but why didn’t we get animation for the third story? Was it so boring that the Monster couldn’t be bothered so instead just whispered it in his ear as a way of saying “Okay I’m done, it’s your turn to tell a story now!” Of course maybe the studio just ran out of money.

Conor was let down continually by every single person in his life, aside from his mother. Two of whom were professionals and should have known better or at least being able to spot small signs and refer up. The teacher tells him that if he wants to talk he can. No! Send him to counselling. Don’t offer it, insist on it. He’s young but sensible and going through something horrific. Bring a bereavement counsellor into the school and let him talk. The grieving for the eventual loss of his mother has already started, this is blindingly obvious from the beginning of the film. He destroys his grandmothers sitting room and beats up a kid at school (who, lets face it, deserved some form of come back for being a shit!), runs away and no one does a thing! If they’re carrying on as normal then he should have been punished but if they’re treating him with a soft approach then someone somewhere should have done something about his poor mental state. Teacher, headmistress, grandmother, father. One of them had to have thought “maybe he needs professional help?” This annoyed me more than anything. Not all teachers are useless and fail to pick up on these things! The fact that all four people, in very close and serious relationships with this boy, let him down made me angry. Not just because they let him down but because I don’t think the writer actually did any research. It actually made me feel like he was saying “I don’t need to worry about that. People are too stupid to think about those things and if I put them in it might lighten the story a little and I need it to be as dark as I can possible make it.”

So lets talk about the bully. Either the casting is atrocious or it’s never explained that the bully has been held back a number of times. These can be the only explanations as to why he looks so much older that Conor. I’m quite sure someone is going to say “Oh at my school we had kids who looked so much older!” – Yes, you probably did, I did too, but this is a film and as such comes with the option of better casting. Given the fact the bully has appeared in little else I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken much to cast someone close in age to MacDougall. Also with regard to the bully – Conor beats him up, puts him in hospital and the family might sue, as the headmistress says. Did she at any point say “So Conor, why did you do it?” If she did we didn’t hear it but given her “well there’s no point punishing you!” attitude I’m guessing she didn’t because otherwise she would have said “Actually, I’m not going to punish you just yet, we’ll wait and see what the other side says first.”

As for not punishing him, this is a common theme and I can only assume it’s a “We’ll not punish him because his mother is dying, that’s punishment enough.” Yes, it absolutely is, should we talk about that bereavement counsellor again?

One of the comments I was sent was “His mother died! Of course everyone cried! You’ve no soul! LOL!” You’re right, his mother died and probably right about me having no soul but we knew she was going to die from the moment the film started. All the signs were there including in the description of the film where it describes the mother as being terminally ill. Sorry to burst your bubble but terminally ill people rarely survive. “I’ll tell you three stories, you’ll then tell me a fourth.” So the mother isn’t going to die then until the fourth story because lets look at the dream in the opening scene. The truth will be that either he does or doesn’t want her to die. Either way, this will be his truth and the fourth story and ergo his mother will die at that point. With all this evidence I was fully prepared for the mothers death and as she wasn’t my mother and the film hadn’t been that good but entirely predictable (in my opinion) I didn’t feel emotionally connected enough to get upset. In fact, I was bored.

The same happened with Moulin Rouge. The opening line is “the woman I love is dead” (or words to that effect). Thank you! That’s the ending ruined. You go and fall in love and tell me how it happens but don’t expect me to be crying about it.

Bayona’s hard-on for del Torro screamed out as the film had an air of Pan’s Labyrinth about it. Which is probably another reason I was bored by it as Pan’s Labyrinth was crap (in my opinion!). So bad that I couldn’t sit through all of it.

It was hard to know who the film was aimed at. It appear too complex and upsetting for children and too simple for adults, but just as upsetting. What obviously wanted to be dark turned into dreary and left me feeling like something was missing.

There are two positives I’m going to take from this film. Firstly, as I’ve said, Lewis MacDougall is amazing and I look forward to seeing his other projects. Secondly, I’d be interested to read the book of A Monster Calls to see if Bayona actually did miss stuff out.

I rate a lot movies on and this one just got a five and I’m being generous. Don’t believe me? I loved Moulin Rouge but that still only got a six our a ten!

You may, of course, disagree with all the above.  You’re perfectly entitled to.  But this is my opinion, and I’m very much entitled to that.


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