Since he burst onto the international moviemaking scene in 2007, J.A. Bayona has never shied away from injecting sentimentality into the harshest of subject matter.

It’s unsurprising that the director’s penchant for tenderness raised the eyebrows of Guillermo del Toro, who also holds the belief that any films about monsters, human or otherwise, that eschew emotional intensity are missed opportunities. From his feature-length debut ghost story, The Orphanage, (which del Toro helped produce) to his disaster film based on events during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, The Impossible, to 2016’s dark fantasy drama, A Monster Calls, mothers and sons have been Bayona’s vessels of empathy and humanity amidst his stories’ dire circumstances.

Jorge Luengo Ruiz‘s “J.A. Bayona / Mothers and Sons” weaves a thread of scenes from Bayona’s films that depict the strength of familial bonds when pitted against life’s everyday ebbs and flows, as well as its most imminent threats. Watch the video essay below to see the director’s mother-son motif in action.

It’s hard to watch Bayona’s work wear its heart on sleeve and not feel pushed to make the personal elements in your own screenplay ring truer (and perhaps, if the material calls for it, a bit louder). For more on how to build plot around that heavy emotional tenor, check out our First Draft installment on Plots and Payoffs in The Orphanage. For deeper digging into the process that guides Bayona’s dramatic register, read our interviews with the director and with star Liam Neeson on A Monster Calls. And while you’re at it, maybe give mom a call, too. MM

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