The title of this movie clues you in that it isn’t going to be your typical tale. It starts off amusingly and with a sense of fun and magic, not unlike what I had been expecting (and didn’t get) with TS Spivet. But then it all turns. It becomes clear quickly that this is actually a lot closer to A Monster Calls, using many of the same ways to tell the tale it has set out for its audience. In his first movie lead, Aiden Longworth tackles Louis Drax well, and manages the balance of emotions to pull off a difficult role and still make it feel and sound like it is from a child’s point of view.
Around the young Drax are a cast of characters, and a sense of unresolved tension, again very much from Drax’s vantage which keeps it from going too dark. Jamie Dornan (The Fall) and Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold) are the crux of the film. Their relationship helps drive everything. Aaron Paul (Eye in the Sky) and Oliver Platt (Chef) fill in a great deal more and build some interesting characters as we try to understand the world through Louis Drax’s filter. There is even a small and surprising role for Barbara Hershey (Black Swan).
Director Alexandre Aja (Horns) brought a sense of wonder to Max Minghella’s (Into the Forrest) adaptation. Their sensibilities matched nicely and delivered, if not a happy film, a film with a sense of possibility and life. This is definitely not a story that will appeal to everyone, but it is fairly well done. If A Monster Calls or even Aja’s previous Horns appeals, you’ll likely appreciate Drax. If you haven’t seen those other films to weigh it all out, then just give this a gamble. It isn’t your traditional movie, and though a tad too pat in its structure for me, it is well done and effective.