No, he isn’t. Liam Neeson voices the tree monster who visits Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) in his dreams. His mother, played by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Felicity Jones, has cancer and he is forced to tackle it head-on while dealing with bullies in school and the prospect of living with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) instead of his father. The beauty of A Monster Calls is that the audience also gets lost between what is real and what isn’t.
I had high expectations for the film which is being called as the best movie of 2016. This time, the critics are right. It combines elements of drama, comedy, adventure, and fantasy. I am particularly blown away by MacDougall’s performance. Prior to this, I haven’t heard of him and he plays a character that anyone can relate to. Jones also delivers in the limited screen time she has and Weaver brilliantly portrays the hardened grandma who is struggling to remain strong for her daughter and grandson.
But, without the doubt, the most memorable character for me is Neeson’s monster. There is speculation that he is Conor’s grandfather as his mother looked at the monster before she succumbed to her disease. Plus, there were pictures of Liam Neeson himself in her mother’s house. The strongest evidence, though, is probably her sketch book which contains images from the tree monster’s stories to Conor and a drawing of her as child perched on the monster’s shoulder.
Anyway, the monster definitely won the Best Dialogue award in the film. My favorite has got to be, ‘But what is a dream, Conor O’Malley? Who is to say that it is not everything else that is the dream?’ It set the tone for the entire movie. There are other great quotables in this one about healing, faith, being invisible, being angry, etc. I love these kinds of films. They make you think and ask questions. They let you take a moment to reflect on your own life. It reminds me so much of The Big Fish.
The third act features one of the most gut-wrenching endings I’ve seen on the silver screen. It was a bit hard sitting through some of the scenes that were dragging. But the payoff towards the end makes the wait worth it. All in all, I give A Monster Calls 4 out of 5 stars.