Colossal movie review: Anne Hathaway gives best performance to date in this monster movie
If you’re a hard-boiled film geek you’ll probably have watched, gone crazy about, rewatched, made all your friends see and rejoice over a little film called Timecrimes. The 2007 sci-fi comedy thriller, directed by a then unknown filmmaker called Nacho Vigolando pretty much blew away every convention of the many genres it straddled and offered a challenging, twisty film that not only entertained audiences but made them reflect upon its layers of puzzles.
Vigolando didn’t see much success after his breakthrough with two disappointing offbeat films, but with Colossal he’s back in raging form. This is the kind of high concept, cooky, thought provoking, hilarious puzzle drama that Hollywood needs to offer more of.
Giving away too much of the plot would reduce the impact of the film viewing experience. All you need to know is that it’s about a woman named Gloria (Anne Hathaway) who due to her drinking problem loses her job and her boyfriend and returns to the small town she grew up in. She reconnects with her old friends (Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, Austin Stowell) but is shocked to discover that she has some neural connection with a giant monster who at the same time is attacking South Korea.
Suspension of disbelief is something the film requires you to delve into, and once you’re in for the ride there’s no stopping the various surprises in store for you. Once the ‘connection’ between Gloria and the monster is established the film smoothly shifts gears from an indie rom com to a dark comedy to a blockbuster, while still maintaining a beating heart and a sprinkling of commentary on the monstrous dangers of alcoholism.
The reason why this film deserves accolades is that it is relatable despite being so completely outlandish in nature. Vigolando demonstrates with great film geeky passion that conflicting human emotions are not that different from a brutal Kaiju vs Jaeger death match, and there really are no concrete ways to understand the emotions, address them and expect someone else to help you deal with them. The monster is always entrenched within humans, feeding on the worst things about humanity like depression, misogyny and substance abuse; it is a beast that is guaranteed to show up at least once in your life, and somehow must be tamed, and no matter how much you think someone is going to save you, you’re alone in the fight against the beast.
Hathaway, in her best performance since Rachel Getting Married, waltzes through the somber and heavy themes of the film as well as the hilarious genre quirks. She’s the conduit into Vigolando’s weird mind here, and both the star and the director do well to distil the film’s high concepts into fairly mainstream popcorn fun.
The minor issue in the film is that Sudeikis’ character undergoes a giant tonal shift which never really seems earned and believable, despite the inherent ludicrousness of the film. It’s a false and under developed beat that occurs in the second act that continues onto the third and cheapens the ultimate film in a way. The final fifteen minutes, however, make for an oddly cathartic experience for any film viewer who has dealt with the problems of the protagonist. It’s great that we have a monster film to make us humans understand ourselves better – and for that alone Colossal is a film that should be seen in the nearest theater, recommended vehemently, and discussed over (non-alcoholic) beverage.