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A Monster Calls: Boyhood tale has a magical touch

 

By Damon Smith

Reclusive 13-year-old schoolboy Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is in denial about the shadow of cancer hanging over his mother Lizzie (Felicity Jones).

He silently soaks up physical abuse at school from bullying classmate Harry (James Melville), and seeks refuge each night in his vivid illustrations.

As midnight strikes, the yew tree which stands guard over the nearby church magically morphs into a gnarled creature (voiced by Liam Neeson).

The behemoth visits Conor and promises to share three parables. In exchange, the creature demands he shares his nightmare every night.

Meanwhile, Conor struggles to articulate his fears to his well-to-do grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and estranged father (Toby Kebbell).

Adapted by Patrick Ness from his award-winning novel, A Monster Calls is an elegiac coming of age story that will strike a chord with anyone who has lost a loved one to terminal illness. Edinburgh-born relative newcomer MacDougall is mesmerising, tearing at his character's fractured heart with maturity beyond his years.

Five stars

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