We have come to expect several things from director Juan Antonio Bayona, thanks to a lengthy filmography that includes The Orphanage and The Impossible. First, there is the sumptuous visual style – rich, earthy tones, juxtaposed with stark, bleak settings. Second, and most affecting, is the immediacy of the connection with the audience – the viewer being taken by the hand and lured into a whirlpool of deepening emotion. These are the aspects of storytelling at which Bayona excels, and these are the aspects that leap from the new trailer for his latest film, A Monster Calls.
Author Patrick Ness adapts his own book here, which gives us cause for relief – such a powerful tale could easily have the energy massaged out of it by a less invested screenwriter. Instead, as we can see from this preview footage, that energy is still very much a part of the film, and is conveyed in large part by the low, distinctive, other-worldly growl of Liam Neeson, voicing The Monster.
Check out the plot summary below:
“A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12 year old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.”
It is the very essence of A Monster Calls that makes it the perfect project for Bayona to direct – being a study in the processing of complex emotions, as seen through the eyes of a young child, whose world is in a difficult state of transition. Liam Neeson, Lewis MacDougall and Felicity Jones are joined in the cast by Toby Kebbell (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) in the role of Dad, and Sigourney Weaver (Alien) in the role of Grandma. The presence of such impressive performers is also an encouraging sign for a film that requires subtlety and nuance in each character.
A Monster Calls is released on October 14th, 2016, so the release of a trailer almost a year in advance suggests that big things are expected for the film. I