2016 hasn’t been a great year, that much we can agree on, but it did give us some fantastic movies. One such film is A Monster Calls, which was adapted from Patrick Ness's book of the same name, and directed by J.A. Bayona.
Take a look at the emotion trailer below:
Exactly seven minutes after midnight, a monster in the form of a yew tree came walking to Conor O'Malley's window. The monster told Conor three stories on separate nights, and afterwards Conor had to tell the monster a fourth tale - the truth about his nightmare. If not, the monster threatened to eat Conor alive. Little did he Conor know, this monster will also help him heal from the heartbreak of his mother's terminal illness.
There's no doubt that #AMonsterCalls will only add to the waterworks to this year, but not in a bad way. Instead it's an emotional story of death and acceptance in a child’s life. If you’ve ever lost a loved one at a young age, or perhaps experienced an unexpected loss in the shit storm that is 2016, A Monster Calls is sure to hit close to home. Conor gradually coping with his mother’s imminent death thanks to the monster is moving in every way. You’ll sympathize and maybe even see yourself in him, as he faces an uphill battle leading to the day he knows his heart will be broken and crushed. However in the end, despite dealing with such a heartbreaking loss, he's built up all over again.
A Monster Calls teaches its audiences many things about life and death, even things that we might have forgotten as we grow older. Take a look at the 6 lessons learned from this emotional film:
1. Death Changes Us
Losing someone you love can drastically change you. And perhaps this happens even more so when you already know that you’re losing them, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Seeing someone you love become a sort of "dead person walking," and seeing them in so much pain can kill a part of you, changing you in some form. Perhaps the only thing that might put a positive spin on a death is the thought that at least the pain stopped and that our loved one is in a much better place.
2. Moving On Doesn’t Mean Forgetting
Losing a loved one is painful and utterly heartbreaking, and it's something that takes a lot of time to heal — and even then the pain never really goes away. A Monster Calls opens us to the realization that we don’t have to just remember our dearly departed in the moments before they passed, but that instead we can honor their memory by only sharing the happiest and fondest memories we have of them. Sharing these beautiful memories is when we know they never truly leave us. Yes, nothing will ever be the same and we have to somehow adjust to that, but the happy memories we have of them will stay with us for as long as we live. That thought makes everything a little better.
3. Death is Not the End
It's a morbid thing to say, but we all die in the end. But, it's also important to remember for those of us who remain while those we love pass away - it isn’t and shouldn't be the end for us. Our loved ones wouldn't want us to stop taking care of ourselves as we grieve, and they wouldn't want us to feel guilty either. Instead they would want us to be happy, and remembering that while they were alive, they lived their life to the fullest.
4. Love Transcends Death
Conor loved his mum so much that he was willing to hold on to any hope that she could live longer, even the idea that the last-ditch cancer treatment could be enough to save her life. And while his mom, Lizzie, loved him as much as he loved her, she knew she wasn't going to live for long. Deep down Conor knew as much, but he wanted to believe that she could survive because the thought of letting her go was too much to bear. Though Conor's mother was in so much pain, she didn't want her son to see her suffering and only actually mentioned the huge elephant in the room when she knew he must brace himself. Lizzie understood what her son was going through even though he never said anything, and that kind of deep love continued even after she passed on.
5. Experiencing A Moral Dilemma Does Not Make You A Bad Person
In A Monster Calls, we know that Conor is haunted by nightmares that his mother is taken away from him and he wasn't able to do anything to stop it. This nightmare mirrors his own moral dilemma. Conor didn’t want his mother to die, he just wanted all the pain that's hurting both of them to stop - either by his mom going into remission, or by the unthinkable, death. That unthinkable thing is what haunts Conor at night, and was his nightmare. He loved his mother and she loved him too, but his mother’s illness is hurting both of them. Conor thinks that he is a bad person for just wanting the pain to stop, and we know that he feels guilty and is blaming himself because he did not hold onto her in his dreams. But, as the Monster tells Conor, it doesn’t matter what we think, because it’s what we do that counts.
6. Death Can Be Unifying
Just how many times a year do we see family members unite once they've moved out of home and started their own families - on holidays? Reunions? And if they reside out of the country, it makes it even more difficult to return home. Sometimes, we see them very rarely and it might take something like a funeral to get everyone together.
A Monster Calls didn’t quite show a huge, far-flung family reuniting, but Conor, his grandmother and even his father all set aside their differences to mend broken bridges and try to cope as a family.
- The One Thing 'A Monster Calls' Can't Change From Book to Screen
- Is 'A Monster Calls' Suitable For Kids? 4 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Family To Watch It
- 4 Tear-Jerking Movies Like 'A Monster Calls' That Will Leave You Crying And Smiling At The Same Time
- The Devastating True Story Behind 'A Monster Calls'
It may have taken a giant talking yew tree for Conor to cope with his mom's terminal illness, but it may have just take audiences this movie to make us realize things about our own lives. A Monster Calls is an eye-opening movie, especially for someone who has never experienced such devastating loss in their life and having no idea how to deal with it. For me, A Monster Calls is a personal movie. Be warned that ugly crying may ensue while watching it, however A Monster Calls is also a beautiful family-friendly fare for when you want to show your kids touchy subjects that may be difficult to explain, but something they'll experience later in life.
A Monster Calls is a sad tale of childhood and coming-of-age, and if you've ever lost someone at a young age this will surely bring on the waterworks. If you've lost someone this year, the poignant lessons A Monster Calls (both the book and the film) will help you ponder, grieve, and set you free.
'A Monster Calls' will have its wide U.S. release on January 6, 2017.
What life lessons have you learned from 'A Monster Calls'? Let us know in the comments!