A Monster Calls: The Moonlight Cinema Experience

08:00 Cilla P 6 Comments

I've always wanted to know what an outdoor cinema is like. It doesn't seem like the most convenient method of movie-watching - what if it rains? My father reminded me that Indonesia has a term for this kind of cinema: misbar (gerimis bubar), roughly translated to mean that it's over as soon as it drizzles. It was a worrying possibility, but when I saw that Moonlight Cinema was holding an advanced screening of A Monster Calls, I thought why not. I hadn't read A Monster Calls at this stage, but had heard all the raves for it. My friend, Elise, made the effort to read the book before we went, but I decided I'd go in blind.

As it turned out, it wasn't a fantastic day for an outdoor cinema. To begin with, it rained heavily in the morning and remained cloudy throughout the day with strong gusts of wind. Then, some time around lunch time, tragedy struck Melbourne. I was with Eliseand we scoured social media for news about what had happened, checked on friends, glued to news sites as we waited for updates. It was a frightening and surreal afternoon.

Our family and friends were okay. We still went to the movie.

The Outdoor Cinema Experience

We were an hour and a half early, in fact. The screen wasn't even up yet, and we were able to score a front and centre spot on the lawn. Elise had brought a picnic rug, and it was comfortable to sit and chat and pick at the delectable muffin we'd bought earlier for dessert. I even snuck a quick bookstagram photoshoot with Elise's help. 

The movie didn't start until 8:45ish pm, as the sun was only starting to set then. It hadn't set enough for such a dark-toned movie. There were times in the first twenty minutes where I couldn't see what was going on. This was most disappointing when the Monster appeared for the first time. I can only imagine that it would have been a majestic/scary/awe-inspiring moment.

As the night deepened, however, the atmosphere perfectly matched the movie. "Gloomy clouds for a gloomy movie," Elise said. The Moonlight Cinema is set in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Garden, and we were surrounded by tall trees that rustled frequently. Bats occasionally flew over the screen. It drizzled a couple of times (but not enough to cancel the whole viewing, thankfully).

Things I Learned about Going to an Outdoor Cinema:
↠ Sitting unmoving on the ground for better part of three and a half hours is not that fun. Bring a picnic rug, at the least, or find out if there's going to be a beanbag rental at the cinema. (Moonlight Cinema charges $9 for their beanbags.)
Dress comfortably. Sometimes it's impossible to predict the weather ahead of time (especially in Melbourne), so be prepared and check the forecast on the day.
Find out what food is available on the ground. We had dinner beforehand, which turned out to be a good idea because a) we would've been starving if we'd waited until 7.30 to have a picnic, and b) there wasn't that many options.

Thoughts on the Movie

It was a good movie. It was beautiful, particularly the artwork during the Monster's stories. I was glad I hadn't read the book. I think it added to the punch of the movie. (I was fully prepared to bawl, but I didn't. There's a chance this might be because my back started protesting halfway through the movie and I got a little distracted.) I thought Liam Neeson was perfect as the voice of the Monster: he conveys that sense of someone who is gruff, powerful, and not necessarily nice, but at the end of the day, not the villain.

One thing that stuck out to me was the white-ness of the cast. There was one scene with an Asian teacher that startled me into this realisation. I'm not 100% sure on this, but I think it was the only scene with a non-Caucasian actor in the room. After reading the book, I thought this was even stranger, as the book has at least two secondary but important characters who seem to be POCs. 

Now that I have read the book, I think Patrick Ness' prose is more powerful than the movie in terms of the emotions. That doesn't change the fact that I did enjoy the movie! It's not a new favourite, but I was glad I went.

Are you going to see the movie? Do you have any expectations for it? 
Have you been to an outdoor cinema? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, would you like to?


  1. This is one of my favorite books so it makes me so happy to see that you enjoyed the adaption. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    1. I hope you'll enjoy the adaptation too, Zoe! Thanks for stopping by <3

  2. Your outdoor cinema experience sounds a bit like the only time I've been - my abiding memory is being very cold and uncomfortable! Glad you liked the film though, I still need to see it but I'm more keen to read the book I think.

    1. I went again for Hidden Figures and it was warmer that time! But I think I'll stick to conventional cinema. I'd love to know what you think if you read the book or see the movie!

  3. I haven't managed to read this one yet, but I know I want to---probably before I see the movie, but it sounds like it will be fine if I do it the other way. Thanks for your review!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I think it will be fine either way, though I'd be curious to see if you have a strong preference for the movie or the book!


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