Bayona creates a gut wrenching drama with a character that can be seen through the eyes of anyone who's ever gone through a tragedy. This is an emotionally devastating experience that is magnificently shot and marvelously directed. The performances are all perfect and push this film along. McDougall's portrayal of pure helplessness and grief is the most devastating aspect of the film as it constantly tugs at the heart. The Monster itself and its purpose can feel a bit on the nose, especially in the climax, but the effects are astonishing and what it represents is moving. The third act kind of falls flat, but the previous two acts are cinematic bliss.
A Monster Calls is an engrossing tragic fantasy, sustained by genuine sentiment.
Do watch it on a big screen to take in all the beauty. A couple of flawless live-action performances share the screen with lovely animation, and with whatever digital magic spawned the monster — who looks like a tree, has molten sap, biteless bark, Liam Neeson’s voice and a face that reminded me of Boris Karloff.
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.