Who knew that Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones—some of the leading ladies of sci-fi today—would also be starring in one of the year’s most hauntingly beautiful, heart-wrenching films about love, loss, and grief? Director J.A. Bayona knew, but then again he is also the mastermind behind the feature film adaptation of Patrick Ness’ childrens’ book A Monster Calls. Although the source material was aimed at a younger audience, neither the book nor the film treat its viewers like children; rather, the dark fantasy tells the story of a 12-year-old boy (Lewis MacDougall) who seeks the help of a gigantic tree monster (Liam Neeson) in order to help him cope with the fact that his mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill. The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a cathartic, lugubrious treat with lush visuals and towering performances that’ll leave you reeling long after you leave theaters.
Once I managed rid myself whatever pesky speck of dust that must have been in my eyes during the screening, I sat down with director J.A. Bayona and stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Lewis MacDougall to talk to them about bringing Patrick Ness’ award-winning novel to the big screen. Our wide-ranging chat covered everything from the challenges of adapting the source material to transforming Liam Neeson into Liam Treeson and beyond.
A Monster Calls opens January 6, 2017.
Image: Focus Features