Colossal (2016)

  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Action | Comedy | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Nacho Vigalondo
  • Cast: Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell


A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering.

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  • As evidenced by his two previous efforts Timecrimes and Extraterrestrial, the mix of the comic and fantastical has been Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo’s calling card. Colossal finds him working with a comparatively bigger budget and an Oscar winner in Anne Hathaway and certainly boasts a characteristically compelling scenario: barely functioning alcoholic Gloria (Hathaway) discovers that she is somehow connected to a giant kaiju monster that has surfaced in Seoul. Whether the wider exposure results in more audiences plugging into Vigalondo’s specific frequency remains to be seen, but Colossal serves as proof that his oddball sensibility is not entirely lost in translation.

    At the film’s outset, Gloria could not be at a lower point in her life. Her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) is at his wit’s end; no longer able to deal with her constant drinking, partying, and excuses, he evicts her from their apartment and refuses to let her back into his life until she sorts herself out. With nowhere else to go, Gloria returns to her childhood home and runs into former elementary schoolmate Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who is elated to see an obviously unrequited love return to a town he’s been stuck in from childbirth. He hires her as a waitress at the bar he’s inherited from his father, gives her a big-screen TV and other furnishings, and introduces her to his friends, Garth and Joel (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell).

    So far, so normal. Until news outlets report the mysterious appearance of a kaiju monster in Seoul. When it appears again the next night at the same time, 8:05PM, Gloria begins to realise that the creature’s movements are mimicking her own during the same time she’s in the neighbourhood playground. Could she really be the cause of all the destruction? And if she is controlling the kaiju, then who is manipulating the green robot that suddenly shows up on the scene?

    The film’s narrative initially hints at a romantic comedy disguised as a monster movie. Yet Colossal plumbs the depths of something darker and deeper – namely, self-loathing and abuse – and by doing so, turns into something precious and peculiar. Which is not to say that it doesn’t have its flaws – in fact, the tonally unstable Colossal comes nowhere near fulfilling the potential of its premise, both in terms of text and subtext. The characters are sketched rather than fleshed out and Vigalondo should count himself lucky that Hathaway and Sudeikis weave something far more substantial from the material than written.

    It’s no surprise that Hathaway gives her most engaging performance in years as the royally screwed-up Gloria; the actress often transcends herself when portraying characters with jagged edges (see Rachel Getting Married), and much of the film’s believability hinges on her eyes, which are as expressive as a silent film star’s. Sudeikis has the trickier role since Vigalondo swerves Oscar so suddenly in an unexpected direction that one may experience whiplash, but the actor continues to prove his deftness with parts that require more characterisation than easy comic relief.

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