Colossal [Review by Haus]
Colossal is exactly the kind of film you expect to see at Sundance: Quirky, hip, wrenching, and memorable, with A-list talent mining the rich seam of mountain-rock street cred whilst on loan from the L.A. blockbuster hatchery. It’s a surprisingly powerful film given its off-the-wall premise, and — slotting in right behind Their Finest — is among my favorite films of the 2017 festival.
For a movie that opens with a deadpan shriek and a Godzilla-type kaiju monster strutting through Seoul, Colossal is full of surprises. It’s part zany creature feature, part alcoholic’s moaning spiral, and part gritty parable of emotional abuse, with a couple of hilarious moments thrown in. It’s also deeply cathartic, and very much worth your time. You won’t see anything else like it this year — maybe ever.
Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, a typical millennial layabout, whiner, and party girl who one day finds herself kicked out of her boyfriend’s fancy New York apartment. She retreats to a big empty house in her pokey and overcast Northeast hometown, thrashes about in emo ennui for a while, and soon happens across her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Oscar runs his father’s old bar, and before long she joins him there nightly. Oscar’s into Gloria but never does much about it, aside from get all dark and jelly when she talks to someone else. Stuff clouds over from there–oh, and the Korean monster comes back.
Two things quickly become clear in this movie. First, a link exists between Gloria’s drunken meanderings and the reappearance of the Godzilla-type monster in Seoul. Second, this is a film that unabashedly and regularly takes its pants off, without warning and to excellent effect.
The monster-vs-small-town-girl tie-in is a super interesting concept, and the less you know about it going in, the better. So no ships shall be sunk by my loose lips; director Nacho Vigalondo‘s story is safe with the Haus. I will divulge, though, that the plot does get progressively more strange. And alongside the monster stuff, Jason Sudeikis quietly morphs from charming upbeat pal to a manipulative, controlling, mean drunk.
Hathaway is terrific and nuanced here; her Gloria is unable to care much about her own life, but still driven to deep compassion for the victims of Korean monster attacks. But it’s Sudeikis who steals the show, particularly when he gets rotten. He nails the withering “dare you to say something” glare of the drunkard itching for battle. Equally frightening are his compelling morning-after apologies. Controlling assholes never looked so real.
Colossal starts out frothy but tacks hard into some challenging material — then proceeds to zig-zag back and forth from dark to comical. (The parts that are truly hard to watch, you’ll find, have only human monsters on screen.) I could’ve done without the grating, self-important bleats of Gloria’s ex-boyfriend and one pointless childhood flashback, but otherwise this is a nearly perfect film. See it, and marvel at what can still be done with a couple bucks, an Oscar-winning actress, and an idea.
Haus Verdict: Imaginative, crazy, funny, difficult. Great performances, and kaiju to boot. Like nothing else you’ll see this year. Enjoy.
Colossal is screening at Sundance Film Festival, and opens wide on April 7.
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