Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
There are many ways to handle the death of a person, be it in a movie or in life and through animation, the point of view of a son, the point of view of a mother, and each finding their own way to deal with things, we are given a story which I can almost guarantee will bring you to tears.
Bullying | Cancer
Connor (Lewis MacDougall) | Grandma (Sigourney Weaver) | Mum (Felicity Jones) | Dad (Toby Kebbell) | Harry – The Bully (James Melville)
Characters & Storyline
At 12 years of age, Connor is losing his mom. She is his best friend, planted the love of drawing into him, and while he knows his father, loves his father, he also, to a point, accepts he can’t, or won’t, be there as he wants him to be. So how to manage? How to cope with watching your mother fight for life, and yet see her on the losing side? Do you destroy things, lash out at people, maybe take on responsibilities for things, and guilt, for which you don’t need to claim? There is no answer. All that is fact is what is happening and that’s the one thing you don’t wish to say is yours.
The Animated Stories
Somethings human beings just can’t emote the way animation does. A human face maybe able to tell a story, but animation, even if it is something simple, not on a Disney/Pixar/SquareEnix or even Miyazaki level, is sometimes the better medium to help you understand the complexity of human emotions.
In the movie, we are given three tales, three quality short stories dealing with the complexity of human nature in which evil is done for the paving of good, the exploitation of assumptions, and that is just one story. All three, both separate and together, arguably are the type of tales which remind you that the latest technology isn’t needed to get a point across, or even faces, to make you feel. You just need the right voices, strong writing, and a willingness to be vulnerable.
The Makeup or Lack There Of
There are times when I write reviews and speak on the look of actresses and sometimes wonder to myself am I being shallow in mentioning some things out of their control. Can a person help if they have a doe-eyed look, can they help if they are perceived to be beautiful? Should that sway you one way or another? Well, we know Felicity Jones is a beautiful woman, but the makeup which would normally highlight or conceal blemishes and imperfections is peeled away. With that, all we are left with is that smile, which is part of her charm. Something which is used as a glimmering lantern as she walks in the valley of death.
With one scene after another, her hair goes, her skin becomes blotchy, her lips become more cracked and peeled. What beauty you see comes from the inside, this emanating hope, and like Connor you want to hold onto that. You want to believe in it yet, at the same time, each time she says something isn’t working, each set back there is, you question this desire to want her to hang on, to fight, for in that process you see her body is fighting a pyrrhic battle. And while I have yet to lose anyone significant in my life, through MacDougall you get far more than a taste. What you get is an overdose of the drug known as grief and will cry to the cliff of almost becoming a blubbering mess.
Grieving: To Each Their Own
Becoming numb, destroying things, trying to get through those hard conversations so when the ordeal is over you can smoothly transition to life thereafter. Grief is a weight some find a little less heavy than others, or perhaps it would best to be said it is more cumbersome for others than ourselves at times. Between Connor and Sigourney Weaver’s character, they show us very methods on the spectrum to deal with someone important to you, perhaps the light of your life, fading out in the distance.
One thing Connor does is seek punishment and accept it for his complicated feelings dealing with wanting his mother to live but also to let go. Weaver’s character, be it because her husband died or she has experience with death, she tries to plan for perhaps what is harder than watching someone fight for life. Which is: what to do after they are gone. And there is just so much that honestly, with my emotions still dissipating from watching this, I just can’t form into words.
On The Fence
You Could Want More From Connor’s Dad, Grandma and Connor’s Bully
There is always that question of whether we need more from certain characters? I think I mentioned this just within the last month. When it comes to supporting characters, should they be written well enough for us to understand they have, and had their own lives? Do they need to be written so well they could very well be the star of the movie? Or do they need to be written just enough to have a purpose? Connor’s dad helps to make it clear that he can’t take Connor if his mom dies, he will have to live with his grandma. It’s not clear why grandma is how she is, and what may have happened to grandpa, but she is there, she is trying, and perhaps that’s all that matters. And then with Connor’s bully? Is he just there to show Connor’s life is at its absolute worse? Is he there to show how numb Connor is to life? Perhaps he is there to prove Connor can at least feel physical pain as he mentally shuts down? Again, the elation clouds my thoughts.
Overall: Worth Seeing – Recommended
Crying over strangers, especially fictional ones, is a task. A viewer has to get lost in your story and forget they are sitting somewhere and it’s not their life. A Monster Calls does that and, without using cheap methods, bring you nearly to the point of beyond crying but snot coming out of your nose. Hence the Worth Seeing label and this being the first recommended movie of 2017.