Having finally been to see A Monster Calls at the cinema yesterday, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start another feature here on my blog that I’ve been toying with doing for a while, where I compare a book to its movie adaptation. After all, any bookworms out there will surely know the odd mix of both excitement and dread that comes with the news that one of your favourite books is to be picked apart and brought to life in a new form.
The plot of both the book and film versions of A Monster Calls centres around a young boy named Conor as he struggles to accept his mother’s increasingly ill health. By night, he is visited by a monster who pledges to tell him three stories in exchange for a story of his own; the reason behind the nightmares that plague him and the truth he won’t accept.
The first and most important thing to say is that I thought the film was a very faithful and respectful adaptation of the source material, but I would expect nothing less given that Patrick Ness (the book’s author) penned the screenplay himself. The relatively short length of the book means it lent itself very well to a screen adaptation, as it allowed for a full and thorough interpretation, avoiding the usual problem wherein large amounts of original material are often cut to allow the story to fit into the time constraints present in a film.
I really appreciated that they clearly took visual cues from Jim Kay’s wonderful illustrations when creating the screen version of the monster. I thought the visuals overall in fact were handled excellently, staying true to the eerie and almost fairy-tale-like quality present throughout the book.
Though the film has a fairly small cast, they all do a fine job, with particular merit owed to Felicity Jones for her understated power as the frail yet loving mother who is slowly slipping away, and Lewis MacDougal, the young actor who plays Conor. I was so impressed by his charismatic and emotion-fuelled performance, especially towards the climax. Having since discovered that he lost his own mother shortly before production of the film began however, his authentic portrayal has taken on an even greater poignancy.
All-in-all, I’d say fans of the book can rest assured that the adaptation was indeed in safe hands and as such, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend they check it out if they haven’t already.