-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanhan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Fun
-
Budding Writers
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Business_Markets
-
Shopping
-
Travel
-
Restaurants
-
Hotels
-
Investment
-
Yearend Review
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Sports
-
World
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
Entertainment
-
Business
-
Markets
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> Movies
A Monster Calls
    2017-May-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Tony Kebbell, James Melville Director: J.A. Bayona

TAKING a much less intense look at a family in jeopardy than he did in “The Impossible,” his story of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, J.A. Bayona embraces fairy tales in “A Monster Calls.” Built around a series of encounters between the titular monster, a sentient tree voiced by Liam Neeson, and a boy whose mother (Felicity Jones) is fighting cancer, the film brings some of the creepiness of the Spaniard’s 2007 debut “The Orphanage” to what might otherwise be mildly sappy family fare.

British pre-teen Conor (Lewis MacDougall) has been having horrific nightmares during his mother’s long illness, watching over and over as a hole opens violently in the earth beneath a nearby church. So it’s almost not surprising when, late one night, the majestic old tree beside that church writhes wildly into life, stomps over to the child’s window, and announces (in Liam Neeson’s voice), “I have come to get you.”

The tree (it’s a yew tree, and viewers may draw their own conclusions about the homophone there) promises that he’ll return on three subsequent nights to tell Conor a story, then demand a fourth tale from him in return. In the daytime between these visits, though, Conor must contend with bullying at school and the prospect of being looked after by his chilly grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). As neither is very happy-making, he spends lots of time drawing in notebooks.

When the monster comes back (the camera notices that it’s at 12:07 a.m. each night), he insists that Conor mentally envision each story as vividly as he can. The film brings the tales to life stylishly, with a mix of techniques that often echo Conor’s drawing style. Each starts off like familiar storybook stuff — widowed king who remarries evil witch; prince who loses his lovely girlfriend — before wrapping up unexpectedly. When the new queen turns out not to be evil, for instance, depriving us of the payoff we expect, the monster defends his story thusly: “Many things that are true feel like a cheat.”

So it goes each night. And while we don’t really need for Conor’s literature teacher to spell things out by insisting there are “two sides to every story,” the movie’s nocturnal exploration of gray areas and misplaced sympathies sheds light on the messier details of Conor’s family life. There’s dad, for instance (Toby Kebbell, “The Entire History of You”). Dad divorced mom and started a new family in L.A.; visiting Conor now, he has to make his concern for his ex jibe with the fact that they split. Sometimes, he explains, love stories end “messily ever after.”

Even more than “The Orphanage,” which was executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, this monster-and-fairy-tale film shows the Mexican auteur’s influence. The yew tree’s branches wrap scarily around the boy, swallowing him up as the storytelling takes over his imagination; the tree’s magic doesn’t solve the boy’s problems by “poof!”-ing them away, but by altering his understanding of the world.

Patrick Ness’ screenplay, adapted from his own 2011 book, hits the emotional notes required by an illness-centered family drama with grace, but also shows finesse in playing this side of the film against its fantasy. Surprised when his grief-fueled outbursts of violence aren’t punished by parents or principals, Conor is asked more than once, “What could possibly be the point?” The fact that not every terrible thing can be remedied or appropriately punished is a tough lesson even for adults to learn, but “A Monster Calls” helps find the sense in it.

The movie is now being screened in Shenzhen.

(SD-Agencies)

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn