This film is about nightmares, and inner demons that probably haunt every child and it takes time before he/she learns to cope with them. You can call it a kind of film that will readily be selected in Generation K Plus section of Berlinale and win accolades.
It’s an engaging if not amazing British tale, beautifully shot, production designed, and performed.
Young boy Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) suffers from a nightmare that’s a bit too real for him. He stays with her mother Lizzie O'Malley (Felicity Jones) in his family home in a suburb of England. Lizzie is not well and suffers from terminal illness. She is separated from her husband, Conor’s father (Toby Kebbell), who has moved to the USA and is remarried now. These abject circumstances keep Conor under a lot of stress. His classmates also constantly bully him. He is a TROUBLED child. He often dreams that a huge tree in the chapel and cemetery across the fence of his house comes alive as a monster (Liam Neeson’s voice) and speaks with him. The tree insists on telling him stories and expects him to tell a real story of his own and share his fears and nightmares. As his mother’s condition gets worse, Conor has to move to town and stay with his fastidious and stern granny (Sigourney Weaver). His conversations with the tree monster continue nevertheless who forces him to confess and confront his worst fears and deal with tormenting demons within and without.
I won’t call it an extra-ordinary story yet it’s a competently written and directed film on childhood. Lewis MacDougall, the child actor in the leading role, has performed very well. It’s not an easy role to play but he succeeds in living his brooding and troubled character. It also is a well-made film on various technical parameters, from sound design to CGI, music, and camera work.