Anne Hathaway is Gloria, an alcoholic failed writer who moves back home after a bad breakup with Tim, (Dan Stevens) and gets a job tending at a bar owned by childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). And then, there’s a twist: One morning, she wakes up in a playground, and when she gets home, she sees on the news that a monster, a kaiju, has attacked in Seoul, South Korea. She quickly realizes that, somehow, when she walks through this playground, she manifests as a giant monster. In Seoul. South. Korea.
Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal is a quite clever movie, a film that seems to defy genre. At best, Colossal could be described as a science fiction film, but it’s only kind of that. It’s certainly explicitly a film about alcoholism, and overcoming that particular vice, and both Hathaway and Sudeikis deliver strong performances that communicate their struggles with alcohol quite effectively.
Vigalondo’s direction here is subtle and smart, communicating the relationship between the monster and Gloria efficiently, and the script provides us with characters who, while not necessarily audience surrogates, ask the right questions at the right times to help the audience understand what’s going on. The film doesn’t dwell too much on the hows and whys of this strange Asian manifestation, instead focusing on the relationships between the characters, which is part of why this film defies a categorization as a science fiction film.
The film initially seems like it’s headed in a rom-com direction with Stevens as a sort of cliche villainous ex-boyfriend and Sudeikis as the kind of charming dude who usually ends up with the girl in rom-coms. Midway through, however, the film veers in the sudden direction of Sudeikis being an avatar of toxic masculinity even beyond any level of addiction or dependency, and turns him into a villain. To his credit, Sudeikis manages to play both roles very effectively; it’s a good use of his talents as an actor.
For a movie with such an interesting premise, it’s a surprisingly spare movie, with just two main actors and not much involved.Looking at this film as one that didn’t make back its budget at box office, I’m not surprised. While this may have been a critical favorite, it seems like the kind of movie that marketers dread, one where there’s really no clear way to sell this film to audiences as anything beyond a critical favorite. Still, I think it’s a film that deserves some recognition.