A Monster Calls (2016)

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One of the best movies, I've seen all year. (I caught this on HBO in 2017).

It's a bit of a downer, using tragedy to remind people of what's important in life -- but the messages are beautiful and on-target, if you can handle a movie that's showing the human spirit through the trials that life (and death) throws at it, and a child's shock and frustrations at the powerless of human condition.


Twelve-year-old Conor O'Malley is having a rough year. His mothers slow succumbing to terminal cancer, his estranged father starting a new life far away, and his new life with his grandmother.... and of course a school yard bully tormenting him. He recedes into his life of art and fantasy -- where his local Yew Tree comes to life and tells him three true stories, in exchange for Connor admitting his darkest truth (his nightmare).

This is NOT a happy-go-lucky romcom or action film. But it has the messages that should long outlast the special effects.

  • The first story captivated me with its brutal honesty.
  • The second was a bit more biting with a tragic ending.
  • And the third the least satisfying of them all.

But they're all brutal truths that force Connor to accept his own.

It was a bit long in spots. And in hindsight a bit cliché and predictable -- sort of Dickens'esque (ala Chrismas Carol). But it was way, way deeper than one expects from a monster in the closet kind of film. The dialog, acting, visuals, and message were dead on. If you don't cry, then you're a heartless bastard. But it's a good cry, while watching others come to terms with the meanings of grief. And through that, reminding them of what's important in life.