A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering.
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Dan Stevens, Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis
One reason that I like “Colossal” so much is that it runs like a parody of a typical Sundance dramedy. It tells of a woman (Anne Hathaway’s Gloria) who heads back to her hometown after getting dumped. In a house abandoned by her parents, she works through her self-destructive demons, particularly alcoholism and even sleeping in weird positions. She reconnects with people that she knew back from the day, including a childhood friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, smiley and deceptive). But while “Colossal” opens up with a scene of a giant monster appearing in the city of Seoul back in the ’70s, it wonderfully lives in a very relatable reality for a long time, until it starts bringing the monster details back to frame.
In ways best explained by Vigalondo’s film, Gloria learns that her actions hurt people in the most serious way one could imagine—literally, whenever she walks on a playground at a certain time of a day, a giant monster appears in the city of Seoul, and matches her physicality, damaging the city and killing hundreds in the process. The movie goes through an impressive emotional gamut with this concept—at first it’s mortifying when she realizes what she has done just casually, but then it becomes playful, leading to some great visual jokes—and successfully builds its own logic. It’s a thrill to see the movie normalize its bizarre concept, but to be true to itself every step of the way.
As the movie becomes original, so do the performances, like Hathaway’s incredibly physical turn. I’ve never seen “horrified because a foot stomp on a playground just killed hundreds of people,” but that’s the kind of expressions that are actualized by Hathaway. As the events lead to a genuinely effective climax involving saving Seoul at the playground, “Colossal” is one of those movies with the amount of creativity that some directors never produce in their whole lives. Fans of seeing films that are like never before should seek it out.
– Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com