“Colossal” Mixes American Independent Film Making And Kaiju Monsters Well
By Scott Kurland
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, and Dan Stevens
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Man, do I love monster movies. “King Kong,” “Godzilla”... you name it, I’ll watch it. As long as a giant creature is destroying some populated city, I’ll eat that schlock up. Additionally, I also have a fondness for films featuring complex character studies about the mistakes we make as humans. If it has a small budget, an acclaimed actor taking a paycut, and a great avant-garde director at the helm, I’ll pay through the nose to see it. This week’s film is a small indie gem called “Colossal.” Now, let’s find out if this film
about alcoholism and giant monsters
is any good shall we?
“Colossal” is the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an alcoholic magazine writer who has hit rock-bottom. She is let go from her job and her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) decides to banish her her from their stylish Manhattan apartment. Gloria crawls back to her childhood home and ends up working for her friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) at his bar….not the best place for a girl with a drinking problem. Gloria has a rude awakening when news hits that a giant Kaiju monster is destroying the city of Seoul. The kicker? Through a somewhat miraculous incident, Gloria is able to control the monster's actions. Can Gloria get her life together and control this monster she’s literally living with? Or will she continue to make one “Colossal” mistake after another ?
Let’s get the obviousness out of the way. The fact that the monster appears in Seoul, South Korea is no minor detail. It’s a huge metaphor for the addiction that's threatening to consume Gloria's soul. Soul=Seoul, get it? That detail was very on-the-nose, but that is the only problem with this film. This is a great monster movie and an even better character study. I know a lot of people who went to see this thinking it was a comedy about monsters and were really let down. I knew Hathaway’s character was an alcoholic going into the movie and that made a world of difference for me. Nacho Vigalondo crafts a compelling "dramedy" in the middle of this insane world. What I loved about his direction and script was the pacing and the character development. Both Hathaway’s Gloria & Sudeikis'Oscar are two of the most creatively contrasting characters I have ever seen on screen.
Hathaway’s Gloria knows she has a serious problem, one that is slowly destroying her life. The real problem though is that she also see's herself as worthless; a self destructive whirlwind that's not worth fixing. As the movie progresses, she realizes how wrong she was about herself and that right there is what makes this a beautiful performance. The strength Gloria gains throughout the film is what makes her work as a character. I also believe Anne Hathaway is the only actress who could play this role. Hathaway starred in the late Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” where she played a very similar role to Gloria. That performance earned her an Oscar nomination. Sadly, I feel that due to the absurd monster element, she’ll be snubbed come award season. Even so, Hathaway is not the only cast member in this film that's worthy of award consideration.
Jason Sudeikis has always been one of my favorite SNL cast members as well as one of my favorite comedians of all time. As Oscar, he gets to show off his versatility. If I’m being perfectly frank, this performance reminded me of a young Jack Nicholson from films like “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Shinning.” It would take any other actor a monologue to convey what Sudeikis says with just a subtle glance in “Colossal." Like Hathaway, Sudeikis is the only actor who could play this role. I hope and pray he is remembered at award season, because his performance blew me away.
“Colossal” is a marvelous gem of a film about hidden demons executed in a unique and clever way. There were so many clichés Vigalondo could have went with, but didn’t. I think that’s why “Colossal” is as great as it is. This is a must-see film. But be warned. If you think you’re getting a classic monster movie, you aren’t. What you are getting is a compelling tale of addiction and learning to control your demons. See “Colossal” before it leaves the theaters, because this larger-than-life film deserves to be seen on a big screen.