Watching J A Bayona’s directing of A Moneter Calls had me thinking I must’ve known his work from The Babadook since the two films both centre around a single mum, a boy and illustrations. But in fact Bayona is responsible for The Orphanage not The Babadook.
Here we find Conor (Lewis MacDougall) who is differing from a recurring nightmare of losing his mother. Sadly when he wakes up, he remembers that he really is losing his mother to a terminal illness for which the various treatments aren’t working and time is running out. Sigourney Weaver plays the grandma of the boy who is the possible future of Conor if his mother does slip away.
Weaver plays her almost like some wicked witch and adds to Conor’s issues. As if that’s not enough he’s getting bullied at school every day.
Whether the approaching tree giant played by Liam Neeson is an embodiment of a mental breakdown or not is unclear but the tree man says he will visit Conor four times. The first three, to tell three stories and the forth time will be for Conor to tell the truth about his nightmare.
On first glance this looks like the BFG done for young teens as a tale of coping with cancer.
But it’s too upsetting for children – and adults really. Felicity Jones has the role of mum in an ever diminishing image of a dying mother.
The visuals are fantastical enough before the tales told by The Monster are illustrated in a wash of imaginative watercolours. Live action meets cgi meets animation. It’s a work of art in many ways.
The emotional punch is something you’re constantly trying to avoid as you watch but when the end of the movie comes it’s difficult to keep your emotions in check for much longer. This film is for the child in us all as adults. The one that screams inside for their parents when times get hard.
Impressive but tough.