I can usually identify why I liked a film straight off. In this case, I can’t. While I pore through this incredibly sad film in my head, I still have to review it so here goes. Let me tell you what it is.
“A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's terminal illness.” -IMDB
Patrick Ness, Patrick Ness
Fri 06 Jan 2017 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Here, we are in a boy’s dreams though are not revealed as such. In fact, we aren’t sure through the course what is dream and what is reality. Perhaps he’s a sleepwalker for all we know. This is an open-ended film in terms of interpretation. I read something yesterday that claimed the tree was cancer. I wonder. A recent film I liked that did a similar “open-ended” technique was Birdman.
Is there really a Birdman? Is there really a tree? What am I really seeing here? What is the purpose?
If riddles like this interest you as much as they do me, this film is for you. Films like this do not expect to be exactly understood, instead, they invite emotion and tone into the viewer experience. That becomes the meaning.
The acting is superb. There is really nothing child-like here or crafted for kids. There is a lot of amazing artwork reminiscent of the storytelling scenes in Kubo and the Two Strings. The boy and his mother are both artists, it is their bond to be as such. While I’m on the topic, the relationship between dying mother and son is tear-jerking, almost gut wrenching. I wonder why the film seemed aimed at kids with such sad grown-up themes here.
I thought the film was about the stages of grief but as the film progressed I realized it’s a more personal message than that. This book must have been written by someone who went through loss and used the tree monster as a vehicle to explained what must be learned through death. Yes, the theme is death.
There is much to be gained from going to this movie. IT might be helpful to someone who loses a parent or other loved one, but I’m not sure. Perhaps it would be better used for therapists and friends who have not experienced the loss to understand what the sufferer is going through. Without giving it away, I’ll leave you with my recommendation but only if you know going in these are grown up concepts that kids won’t truly get unless you have a hot chocolate with them afterward and dialog. Having said that, now that I’ve explained the theme of death and dark serious tone, I wholeheartedly recommend this for anyone. I liked it the same way you like sour candy, one of the sour low points of life we all experience and can not escape.