Colossal Review: A Monster Sized Masterpiece
Colossal is the latest film from independent filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo and the type of film that we rarely see nowadays. It is a film that takes chances as it combines two genres that have absolutely nothing to do with one another but somehow it works almost flawlessly. Vigalondo has created one of the most unique and original films in over a decade. I saw Colossal back in September of 2016 when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and now, seven months later the film is finally getting a release that it very well deserves.
Colossal tells the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a fun-loving party girl that is forced to leave NYC after her boyfriend kicks her out for failing to be a responsible adult. With nowhere else to go, She returns to her hometown hoping to figure things out. Gloria meets up with an old friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who has never left town and now runs the local bar. Oscar offers to help Gloria out by giving her a job at the bar. The two spend most of their free time getting drunk until one evening when Gloria stumbles drunk through a local park. The following morning, Gloria turns on the news and learns about a monster that has invaded Seoul, South Korea. Gloria becomes obsessed with the news as she turns to social media to learn more about the attack. It only takes a few days before Gloria begins to connect the dots and discover that the monster attacks may have something to do with her own personal battles.
I want to open my review by saying that Colossal is the type of film that needs to be seen to be believed. It is also a film that should be viewed knowing as little about it as possible. If you haven’t watched the trailer for this film, please do not watch it, and just see the film. The trailer pretty much gives away a lot of the film, therefore, ruining a lot of the fun and surprises. This is the type of film that should be experienced without much conversation prior but trust me, there will be plenty to discuss after seeing it.
Colossal, as I said earlier, is a film that combines genres and subject matters. There are themes such as finding yourself and battling addictions that are somehow meshed into a film that is also a monster movie. It is a wild and creative concept but one that writer/director Vigalondo pulls off with such ease. I cannot remember the last time that I watched a film that made me react the way that Colossal did. I am blown away by this film because it is so out there that I still cannot believe it exists. While a lot of critics say “this film is unlike anything you every seen before” all the damn time, I would bet money that Colossal is unlike anything that you have ever seen before and that is something in which I don’t say very often.
Anne Hathaway delivers what could easily be described as her most challenging performance of her career thus far. Hathaway, who love her or hate her, has always taken on roles that challenge her as an actress and are typically very different from one another. As Gloria, Hathaway not has to sell the idea that she is this lovable yet incredibly flawed woman. The journey that we as audience members go on with Gloria is one with so many layers and issues. Gloria is faced with so many issues that I believe many young women (and men) in their 20s and 30s will be able to relate to her as a character. Gloria is not the type of person that is easy to play because she is a complicated person with a lot of baggage but the way that Hathaway transforms into Gloria, makes it easy to get behind her and root for her to overcome her demons and succeed.
I have never been a big fan of Jason Sudeikis even though I have seen most of his work. In my mind, his finest hour was starring alongside Alison Brie in Sleeping With Other People, which I still regard as one of the most underrated romantic comedies of the past five years. Like a lot of comedic actors, Sudeikis doesn’t push himself as an actor. He takes on material that is very easy and it often feels as if he is playing the same character over and over again. That is what makes his performance as Oscar noteworthy. Initially, we see Oscar as this nice guy who enjoys helping and flirting with Gloria. It all feels like something that we have seen Sudeikis do easily a dozen times before, however, Oscar’s personality and behavior does a complete 180 about mid-way through. It was during the film’s second half where I felt that I finally got to see Sudeikis do something new that I haven’t seen before. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that Sudeikis can play a great jerk.
Now, one of the complaints I heard from people as Colossal played at various film festivals was that some viewers didn’t understand or like how Oscar’s personality changed about midway through the film. I have watched the film twice and don’t understand how people don’t see the reasoning behind his shift in personality. This lead me to think about other films and how uncommon it is for stories to change the persona of a character from positive to negative. I believe that we are so used to watching films where once a character is established as nice that we find it hard to comprehend why he/she changes into something else. There is plenty of subtext throughout the film that hints at Oscar not being the guy that we are first introduced to. I don’t understand why there is a complaint among certain viewers because Oscar’s true colors are hinted upon at many points in the film.
This leads me to make mention of the fact that Colossal isn’t the type of film that spoon-feeds the viewer. There are a lot of metaphors and a lot of topics being addressed throughout the film. While there are monsters in the film don’t go into Colossal expecting a full-blown monster movie. Also, don’t expect a convoluted plot explanation as to why everything that happens happened because you will be surely disappointed. Once again, this isn’t that type of movie. It is the type of film that brings up various themes and concepts in a unique and creative way. It is the type of film that challenges the viewer to think outside the box about how people deal with their inner demons and struggle to address their own personal issues. There is a lot to take away from Colossal but only if you chose to go into it looking to not only be entertained but also to think about the underlying themes being addressed.
I must applaud Vigalondo for not only coming up with such a great idea but actually getting his film made and out into the public spectrum. I could only imagine how studio executives would have reacted if someone pitched this concept to them. I got to speak with Vigalondo about how the film got made and he said that it all started with an idea about two people fighting that he had years ago. Vigalondo mentioned that Colossal was the easiest film to get made because Anne Hathaway read the script and committed to it, therefore, making it an easy sell to those funding it. There are over five hundred of films made each year and yet it is so rare to see a single one that pushes the envelope in terms of genre-bending and originality like Colossal.
All in all, Colossal is a Monster-Sized Masterpiece. It is easily one of the most memorable films of the year and without any question one of the most bizarre and creative films to be released in well over a decade. Colossal is the type of film that not only entertains but reminds audiences that original concepts can still exist in a world filled with sequels and reboots. Anne Hathaway delivers one of the best performances of her career and writer/director Vigalondo is a creative genius that is here to stay. Colossal is a monster movie, unlike anything you have seen before. Seek this one out…now!
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Colossal is a 9 out of 10.