Colossal | Nacho Vigalondo | April 7, 2017
With Colossal, Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo has made one of the smartest and inventive monster movies that has come out in quite some time. On the surface, what looks to be an interesting take on a kaiju film, turns into something much more, that actually has something to say.
We meet our lead Gloria (Anne Hathaway), who returns to the Manhattan apartment of her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) after yet another night of heavy drinking, nursing one of her routine hangovers. She’s lost her job, lost her sense of self, and as we learn, lost Tim’s patience. He wants her out, and it leaves her stumbling back to her small hometown in upstate New York, where she returns with no real goal in mind.
It’s there that she runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), an old childhood friend who she begins hanging out with at his bar, where she starts to become a regular alongside his drinking buddies Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson). Soon their nights are spent in awe of the sudden mysterious appearance of a giant monster in Seoul, South Korea, that randomly starts attacking the city. Only its appearance is oddly connected to the drunk happenings of Gloria, who’s unintentionally acting as this monster as she stumbles home inebriated, thousands of miles away.
The monster madness isn’t just a Michael Bay-level of reason to show a giant creature destroying a big city. Vigalondo, who also penned the screenplay, roots the monster’s existence in the self-destructive and often monstrous persona that comes out of us when we slug back a few too many pints (or any other form of substance abuse). This meaning is obvious, but it’s the crafty way that Vigalondo blends it with the sci-fi elements that creates something that feels completely fresh and compelling, all the way to the very end.
Just when you think you have Colossal all figured out, it takes an interesting turn that keeps you guessing. What starts off as something of a quirky indie rom-com where a main character returns home to figure out their shit, soon welcomes in monster elements, opening the gate for interesting character developments that start to breed. There’s a rather dark turn that occurs about midway through, that acts as a gear-shift in the story, giving it a whole new dynamic that viewers may not see coming.
What happens in the second half will make or break Colossal for some viewers, and while for the most part the genre-hopping of Colossal works, there is a bit of tone balance that it tries to juggle, and it’s not always handled smoothly. But it does rediscovers it’s footing with a strong finish, one with a final line that will be one of the best of the year.
Anne Hathaway‘s performance is a pure delight, a different sort of role for her, but one that she knocks out of the park with ease. Equally game is Jason Sudeikis, who delivers the best performance of his career, showing quite a bit of range that may come as a real revelation to some. They help keep the film grounded, a nice counterbalance to the fantastical elements conjured up by Vigalondo.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more imaginative journey at the cinema this year than Colossal. Although it doesn’t always have the firmest grasp on what tone it wants to maintain, it finds a way to piece it all together with a strong finale, resulting in what is sure to be one of the strangest cinematic rides we take in 2017.