A Monster Calls is one of the most touching movies of the year. But while it boasts fine work from Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell and Liam Neeson, the stand-out performance is from newcomer Lewis MacDougall, who leads the way in A Monster Calls as Conor O'Malley, and is truly astounding throughout, especially when it comes to one scene in particular towards the end of A Monster Calls. Director J.A. Bayona has now revealed that this pivotal and revelatory moment in the film was done in just one shot and one take, which makes Lewis MacDougall's performance in it even more startling.
J.A. Bayona made this revelation to me when I sat down to talk about A Monster Calls with him earlier this month in New York City. I quizzed the filmmaker about Lewis MacDougall's stunning work in A Monster Calls, asking J.A. Bayona whether there was one specific moment during filming when he realized just how impressive the performance was. This provoked J.A. Bayona to recall:
Well, I think there's a moment, the whole story is about telling the truth. And there's a moment that we had to shoot, a moment where Conor tells the truth, and it was so impressive what he did that we only shot one take. One shot, and one take. And it was a long take, a dolly track that lasts for a minute, it was such an important moment in the story and we only did it once, because what he did was so impressive that I look at the other people in the crew and I told them, 'Listen, we don't need coverage. We're not going to get anything better than this.' That was so impressive, and so beautiful the fact that he did it in only one take. So we captured the magic of the moment and people will be able to see it in the film.
While J.A. Bayona's quote and the above paragraphs don't go into too much detail regarding the scene, which comes towards the end of A Monster Calls, I'm going to discuss it in more detail now. So you probably shouldn't read ahead if you haven't watched A Monster Calls as it will definitely ruin it for you. Instead, watch its trailer below, and then click here for further reasons why you should see it.
The scene in question is, of course, when Conor O'Malley is told by the Monster to tell his own story, which leads to him revealing that he wants his mother's illness to be over, and for her to be at peace and die. It's a truly achingly emotional and surprising moment in A Monster Calls, and one that Lewis MacDougall is able to sell in a relatable, yet passionate, way, while Bayona revels in getting to the heat and heart of the moment. All in all, it's right up there with the movie scenes of the year.
You can check out a small part of my discussion with J.A. Bayona regarding A Monster Calls by clicking below.
Meanwhile, A Monster Calls is now in cinemas across the United States and it's a film that truly deserves to be seen by many, as it's a charming and heart wrenching tale of grief, childhood, and coming of age.