Adapted from Patrick Ness’ low fantasy young adult novel, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls displays both a formal and thematic aptitude that is a rarity of its genre. Make no mistake: it’s a film that deals with the obvious, explicitly contending with themes of guilt and death in a blunt and direct manner. It may leave you yearning for a film that operates with more subtly. It was a feeling I produced during at least half of A Monster Calls’ runtime. But this is a film with a very persuasive emotional tenor, one that leaves you to consider your own capacity to deal with the obvious (the certainty of death) and the emotional equipment required to handle loss. I think there is something very admirable about a film that confronts its audience with such a reality, if only to expose how ill-equipped we are in dealing with the decay of a loved one before our eyes.