Year: 2017
Director(s): Nacho Vigalondo
Writer(s): Nacho Vigalondo
Region of Origin: Canada, Spain

Rating: R
Color, 110 mins

Synopsis: A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering. (Source)

Rom-coms, monster movies, disaster epics and revenge flicks; you wouldn’t think these genres play nice together, but they’re inextricable from one another in Nacho Vigalondo’s monstrous Colossal. Rest assured, the visionary director’s latest lives up to its name, with an unclassifiable story that’s empowering, funny and original. You’ve truly never seen anything like this, a film that’s really deep and profound, yet not afraid to have silly fun. Saying too much about the plot would be a sin, but just trust me, this one’s a whopper and needs to be seen to be believed. Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis deliver career bests in what can only be described as a boozed-up, knockout that packs in some hefty punches, but also carries more heart than you can imagine.

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a mess. After losing her job, the once notable writer tailspins, her life one long bender filled with parties, booze and self-destruction. Things reach a breaking point when her well-to-do boyfriend dumps her and throws her out of his apartment. With no money, job or friends to really cling to, she returns to her small hometown, where she reconnects with a childhood friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). The two old friends hit it off quickly and Oscar offers Gloria a job at his bar, until she can figure things out. She barely has time to settle, however, when a giant monster (known to genre fans as a kaiju) begins terrorizing South Korea. The event captures the world’s attention, but a series of strange, mind-blowing coincidences link Gloria to the creature in terrifying ways. As it turns out, she’s actually controlling the massive beast. What happens next, leads to a number of shocking revelations that are not only clever twists on the genre, but have distinctly human implications.

By creating a monster movie that cleverly places the creature and its destruction on the other side of the globe, Vigalondo explores broad consequences while bringing a personal perspective to the fore. At base level, the monster’s havoc is an ingenious way of illustrating how our actions affect people we don’t know, as well as how we as a society react to disasters when they’re disconnected from our personal bubble. Even then, the disaster element is just a starting point, and the film’s hook, that Gloria controls a kaiju, is barely scratching the surface of what Vigalondo has in store for his audience or characters. What Vigalondo is really interested in, is a deep exploration of alcoholism, jealousy, abuse and toxic masculinity, all while birthing an empowering heroine along the way. Though the plot may initially resemble a rom-com, things get wild real quick, and the plot never pulls punches, constantly transforming just when we get the hang of things. Ultimately, this is an undefinable experience, one that turns genre iconography on its head, and feels massive thanks to its focus on intimate relationships. As it turns out, the most terrifying monsters are the ones that hide within us.

Since the film’s core is a relational dramedy, it couldn’t thrive without its smart casting and the charm of its performers. As the film’s lead, Anne Hathaway creates an incredibly complex woman in Gloria. She’s a rare cinematic bird, a woman child who is utterly lost, allowed to be imperfect, but finds her way through the unexpected. Hathaway makes Gloria feel real from the bottom up, balancing tragedy, empathy and a strength that progressively breaks through. With this singular role, she proves just how much of a powerhouse she is. As Gloria’s friend, Oscar, Jason Sudeikis nearly steals the show with such a juicy character. It’s hard to go deep without spoiling what makes his character turn heads, but let’s just say there’s more to the guy than meets the eye. He’s incredible charming in each frame, disarming the audience while also taking them on a ride. Dan Stevens, Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell all have bit roles that help to flesh the world out, and they’re great as well, but this ain’t their show.

You’d be right to think that I’m dancing around what I want to say here – I am. Colossal absolutely needs to be seen with as little foreknowledge as possible – it gets progressively weirder by the second, and caps off with a brilliant showdown that you’ll never see it coming. This thing is the real deal folks, a monster of a film that’s cathartic, raw and the right kind of irreverent. Director Nacho Vigalondo is a madman, using his latest to cover the entire spectrum of human emotion. Bottom line, if you’re open to the film’s level of absurdity, you’ll be treated to a cinematic gift unlike anything else. Hold on to your butts and enjoy the ride.

SG