Colossal has the appearance of an odd creature feature but is profound and heartfelt.
Colossal opens with a scene that appears to be ripped from any number of Japanese monster flicks. We see a little girl in the middle of a park in Seoul, South Korea searching for her lost doll only to be terrorized by a large monster. We quickly jump to 25 years later to see Gloria (Anne Hathaway) stumbling into her boyfriend’s apartment after a long night of drinking. Her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) appears to be at his wit’s end and demands that she leaves. With nowhere to go and without a penny to her name, she departs to New Jersey and heads back to her parents’ vacant home. Moments after arriving in her hometown, Gloria runs into an old classmate of hers named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Oscar quickly becomes very focused on her well-being offering her a job and some old furniture for her new home. They start to hit it off and decide to go out drinking one night. Gloria and Oscar end up in a playground nearby which apparently has mystical powers as well. We quickly learn that when they step foot into the playground, an avatar (one of them resembles a robot, the other a “kaiju”) appears in downtown Seoul causing havoc and destruction around. At first, Gloria seems to be having the time of her life, but then she quickly realizes that her actions have severe consequences.
Anne Hathaway delivers another solid performance as Gloria. While on the surface she comes off as a slacker, in reality, Gloria is ill. She’s using booze and a laissez-faire lifestyle to mask her inner demons, not the least of which is the rage she has bottled up inside. The last good thing she had was her boyfriend, Tim, and when he is gone due to her lifestyle choices, she’s alone.
In many ways, it’s her illness that connects Gloria to Oscar. Jason Sudeikis’s character certainly has his demons to fight. He feels repressed as his life has not amounted to a whole lot. Instead of looking for a way to improve his life, Oscar spends his nights with his good friend Jack Daniels. While Gloria’s rage stems losing everything, Oscar’s stems from not amounting to anything. Even though Oscar certainly has feelings for Gloria, part of him can’t even stand her. Sudeikis embodies all of these things and manages to take his “good guy” image and smash into a cold hearted mix of rage and regret. Seeing this transformation was certainly the highlight of the film for me and the best role of Sudeikis’s acting career.
Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo crafted a narrative that is incredibly balanced between absurdity and poignancy. Every scene that we have of Gloria trying to have some fun with her monstrous avatar includes real moments of reflection. For Gloria and Oscar, reality has always been a difficult thing to navigate. The arc of the story has moments of pure hilarity mixed in with sprinkles of awkwardness. At times you’ll feel uncomfortable, but overall it’s a satisfying story.
What stood out was how Viglondo was able to switch between such an intimate film to one where we are witness to large scale destruction. It would have been an error had he decided to stick with one type of film or the other. Colossal is a movie focused on how people cope with their inner “monsters” but seeing the impact of those demons was indeed crucial.
Colossal will certainly go down as one of the bigger surprises in 2017. What appeared to be a light-hearted creature feature ended up being about the demons we all face. While this film won’t get much of a run at the box-office while The Fate of the Furious is on the majority of screens; that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. These types of films deserve our support and should be on your radar this weekend.