Film Review: Colossal
The genre hybrid, starring Anne Hathaway, has enough surprises to keep us watching
Born out of the imagination of Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, Colossal is a weird genre hybrid. It’s a creature feature unfolding in Seoul, South Korea and a rom-com/love triangle/drama which takes place in a small town in middle America.
Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an out-of-work writer partial to the bottle. Thrown out of their New York apartment by her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens), Gloria goes back to her empty (unfurnished and unoccupied) childhood home where she reconnects with old school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis).
Oscar offers Gloria a job as a waitress in his bar and becomes her drinking partner, boss and confidante. Over time, Oscar goes from friendly, to flirty to unhinged as the two find themselves connected by bizarre events revolving around a park and a gigantic, scaly ‘kaiju’ (imagine Godzilla mixed with a White Walker) wreaking havoc. The monster has been seen before, 25 years prior, as we see at the start of the film.
As Gloria manages to figure out her strange and direct connection with the monster— linked to a local park—a giant robot also makes an appearance. The news channels are closely tracking the story in Seoul. There’s even a 24-hour live feed channel about the monster.
If this sounds like a B-grade movie, it could easily have been one. But Vigalondo straddles the two worlds in a way where fantasy and reality coexist. Told from Gloria’s evolving point of view, the metaphor is serviced by her transformation and resultant epiphany. The reveal of the metaphor and suppressed memories come a little late in a film that becomes a sci-fi, horror-comedy and then wobbles around towards the end.
Hathaway is wonderfully watchable as the young woman who finally puts her childhood monsters to rest. Sudeikis is cast against type in a darker role, but, like the script towards the end, he too flails about trying to make sense of his character’s motivations. But marks to Vigalondo for the onscreen unexpectedness.