Monstrous psychotherapy. Review of ”Voice of the Monster” (Topic)

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Monstrous psychotherapy. Review of ”Voice of the Monster”

Image The famous British author Clive S. Lewis wrote in one of the parts of The Chronicles of Narnia :"Someday you will grow to the day when you will start reading fairy tales again". This quote often comes to mind if you suddenly want to immerse yourself in a fictional fantasy world inhabited by amazing creatures, where good always triumphs over evil, albeit with obstacles or losses. Fairy tales act on adults as therapy - for a while, the routine fades into the background, and the heart again and again trembles joyfully from childish joy.

So, in " Voice of the Monster " the percentage of fantasy is not at all as high as it might seem at first glance. Under a thin layer of metaphor and allegory lies a real psychological drama about the most terrible thing - the loss of a loved one and the struggle with oneself.

The topic, you must agree, is not childish, that's why it is much more painful to experience the events of the film.The main character of the picture is a 12-year-old boy named Connor , whose mother is seriously, perhaps even terminally ill. The healing process takes an unbearably long time, but faith does not leave any family member. Connor is tormented by nightmares, and in one of them, at exactly 0:07 am, an amazing creature approaches the windows of his room - a huge old yew tree. The monster has something to tell a desperate child - only three stories, the meaning of each of which is aimed at destroying illusions, not creating them.


The script of the film is based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, the letter of which is almost meticulously followed. Ness participated in its writing, and created his book under the inspiration of the idea of the children's writer Shivan Daud, who suddenly died of cancer and did not manage to realize her creative plans. The film's director, Spaniard Juan Antonio Bayonu , known for the projects Shelter and Boulevard Horrors, is often called "the second Guillermo del Toro." Habitual associations could have arisen in the case of "The Voice of the Monster" : the fact that something at least frightening should appear in the film is already hinted at by the name itself, and the child protagonist is a true connection with "Pan's Labyrinth" , bizarrely told about the reality that forms non-childish nightmares. The mother of the heroine from Labyrinth is also sick, and the girl also turns to the wizarding world for help. However, "Voice of the Monster" makes it clear from the first frames that references to the creation of del Toro are only on the surface.

The Bayons tape is closer to the "Bridge to Terabithia" or, in general, the philosophical and meditative "Fountain". This is a story of growing up, but growing up urgent, provoked by extremely difficult circumstances. Against the background of the fact that Connor's mother dies in front of him, he is bullied at school, the father refuses to accept the boy into his new family, and the grandmother is too strict and categorical. It is also a story of coping and psychological healing. The monster teaches the boy: not everything can be divided into black and white, sometimes evil comes from an unexpected side, and some stories teach nothing. At the same time, the story of Connor himself becomes the most instructive, but also too painful.


Speaking of the monster being a boy ... It's not quite simple. Yew for this role was not chosen by chance. These trees are one of the few living witnesses of the Middle Ages, so long is their age. And the dark tales that the monster tells are just turned into the distant past. Also in England, yew can often be found in a cemetery: according to pre-Christian beliefs, yew served as a guide between the world of the living and the dead. Actually, straight from the cemetery and strides towards Connor a huge wise tree.

The cemetery in one form or another is almost always present in the boy's subconscious - either in the form of an uncomfortable neighborhood with the house, then in the form of recurring nightmares and drowned, but restless thoughts about an imminent death of his mother. It is the tree and its medicinal properties that suggest Darren Aronofsky's film "Fountain" , perfect in all respects, which also tells about the death of a loved one and the impossibility of accepting it.


The motives of the main character "Voices of the Monster" lend themselves to psychoanalysis quite easily, and all possible obscure points are somehow clarified by the finale. Spectators expecting a fairy tale may be disappointed - everything is real here. This is an extremely emotional and sentimental film, but not manipulative to the audience. It is not grief and love that overwhelms Connor's heart as we would like it to be - it is tormented by anger, anger, despair and nightmares. According to the promise to the monster, the boy himself must tell the last story, and it becomes his confession in the worst. The loss of a loved one is not only an unhealed wound, but also an acquaintance with the real one - scared, selfish and tired. A familiar story, isn't it?

On the technical side, Monster's Voice is flawless. The image of a huge tree does not make you doubt its reality in the least. The creators achieved this effect, among other things, due to the fact that part of the yew body was the head, and everything else was drawn on the computer. Also, the picture has its own handwriting - these are animation inserts illustrating the dark stories of the monster, where watercolor is combined with 3D animation, and drawings of the boy himself and his mother. It is they who set the mood for the film with such a bleak theme and, lo and behold, give some consolation. After all, art is part of therapy and an opportunity to touch something bigger than yourself.


The film crew deserves a special mention, starting with the production designer Eugenio Caballero, who won the " Oscar " for the scenery for "Pan's Labyrinth" , and the director of photography Oscar Faura, a permanent collaborator Bayons , and ending, of course, with the actors. Felicity Jones after Rogue One is unusual to see in such a defenseless way. Scene by scene, the make-up artists are changing her appearance more and more, so much so that closer to the finale, the similarity with the heroine Charlize Theron from "Sweet November" grows. Mother Connor performed by Felicity amazes with her generosity, faith and fortitude. Not a single complaint or resentment emanates from her, and for the entire duration of the picture we hear only short and succinct phrases like“If I had a hundred years, I would give all these years to you ".

Sigourney Weaver, even in the role of an ordinary grandmother, is stern and at the same time sensitive. The monster was voiced and portrayed by the beautiful Liam Neeson using motion capture technology. In the USA dubbing, the voice of the character was presented by Vladimir Antonik, often the voice of Neeson . But the whole drama would definitely have collapsed without Lewis McDougall, who lost such a gamut of complex emotions for the film that the viewer, perhaps, should start worrying about him. Shortly before the start of filming, the young actor himself lost his mother. Judging by the dedication shown by Lewis , Connor's story was not fiction for him or an attempt to break into the cinema. From one of his pale face and rare tears, the heart is already aching.


Despite all of the above advantages, the film Bayona failed miserably at home, instead of the expected $ 10 million in the first weekend, earning only two. The producers' probable expectation of the second Pan's Labyrinth did not come true, and now in the world box office the project is only trying to reach the level of self-sufficiency. “Voice of the Monster” , to be honest, is inferior to its standard in the brightness of images and overall dynamics. He is more unambiguous in his narrative of self-discovery and healing. The tape seems to be a colorful guide to some aspects of psychotherapy. Again, the film's audience may not have been very clearly defined by the creators: for children, it is too gloomy and drawn-out, while adults, on the contrary, may be disappointed with psychological and drama instead of the expected light fantasy.

However, those who love to sympathize with the characters with all their hearts, are not afraid of tough questions and bleak answers, will certainly be emotionally cleansed. And after watching the picture, something will quietly itch between the ribs for a long time. Because life, alas, is not a fairy tale, but something much more complex. And if you want to lie to yourself about this, it will always be useful to remember the stories of a monster that one day may call you by name.

The Topic of Article: Monstrous psychotherapy. Review of ”Voice of the Monster”.
Author: Jake Pinkman