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When a monster forces you to face the truth

Update: December, 12/2016 - 10:42
What’s happening:Director Bayona (right) works with Lewis MacDougall and Felicity Jones. — Photos courtesy MVP Pictures
Viet Nam News


HÀ NỘI — In the dark of night, when the house is still, what fears creep into your heart?

Conor O’Malley’s nightmares take the shape of a very old and very dangerous monster who visits him every night at the seventh minute past midnight.

However, the film about O’Malley (played by Lewis MacDougall), A Monster Calls, is not a horror film. It’s a story about the way the 12-year-old boy faces sorrow, loss and truth.

O’Malley’s nightmares begin shortly after his mother starts getting treated for cancer. He’s also dealing with a father who lives far away and is engrossed with his new family, a brisk and determined grandma who doesn’t understand him, and schoolmates who bully him everyday.

It isn’t the monster O’Malley has been expecting.

This monster – a yew tree – is something different. Something ancient, something wild. It has come to tell O’Malley three true stories. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from him. It wants the truth from the boy’s nightmares.

Heart-rending: The film is a touching story about a mother and son. — Photos courtesy MVP Pictures

The truth is that O’Malley can’t face his mother’s treatment and its implications. He is afraid that his mother will die. He lies to himself and blames himself for everything. He even wants to disappear. Gradually, through the stories told by the monster, O’Malley becomes brave enough to accept that the treatment is not working. The moment he embraces his mother tightly, is when he lets her go, peacefully.

The monster is a metaphor for the dark side in each person.

This is a story about enormous grief, loss and responsibility. But more than anything else, readers can feel a great deal of love, the love of a son for his mother and that of the mother who helps her son realise the weaknesses inside him and overcome troubles in life.

Lewis MacDougall, a British actor, made his film debut in Pan (2015).

A Monster Calls also gathers big names such as Sigourney Weaver (grandmother), Felicity Jones (mother) and Liam Neeson (voice of monster).

It’s directed by J.A.Bayona (The Orphanage and The Impossible.)

It’s us: The monster is a metaphor for the dark side inside everyone. — Photos courtesy MVP Pictures

The film is adapted from the novel written by Patrick Ness who also wrote the screenplay for the film, and conceived by Siobhan Dowd. Dowd, the award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, conceived this idea and the characters and the beginning -but died of breast cancer at the age of 47 before she could complete the novel.

Then, novelist Ness, a literary critic for The Guardian, was asked to write the book based on her idea. He succeeded in achieving a work of fiction that “both transcends its genre and painfully wrenches readers’ hearts”.

Ness has written many books, including Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, and Topics About Which I Know Nothing.

Distributed by MVP Pictures, the film is being screened at the CGV, Platinum, BHD, Lotte, Galaxy, Cinestar, Beta, NCC, EVC and Goldstar cinemas nationwide.

The Nhã Nam Company has also released a Vietnamese translation of the novel, A Monster Calls. — VNS

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