Colossal: Film Review
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
"If the trick's good enough, f**k the story".
It's a line uttered by Jason Sudeikis' Oscar in this film from TimeCrimes director Nacho Vigalondo, but in every case of Colossal, it's the complete opposite.
While the trick - an alcoholic woman Gloria (Anne Hathaway, replete in Rachel Getting Married slight Goth mode) feels she has a connection to a giant monster terrorising parts of Seoul when she heads back to her home town - may be what drags people to the cinema, the story's plenty good enough to stay for.
Realising she's at crisis point, and kicked out by Tim (Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens), Gloria heads to her parents' place to try and sort herself out. She finds herself reconnecting with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, a veritable nuanced acting revelation for those used to his corn-bread comedy routines) and working in his bar to make ends meet. But with the world news overtaken by a story of a monster destroying parts of Seoul, Gloria begins to explore what connects her to the monster - and what secrets at home could have led to its manifestation in the first place....
While parts of the audacious premise are left fully explored and a few of the side characters a little wanting after their initial use, large swathes of the quirky yet familiar Colossal hit the mark.
In a weird way, this monster mash is more The Kaiju Are Alright and rom-com-drama than a straight out slice of sci-fi. Hathaway's banged and muted Gloria is a dysfunctional mess, a vision of alcoholism writ large, and she's played with singular aplomb and vision by the actress who adopts a less-is-more approach to the character and her arc of strength within.
But it's Sudeikis who truly shines here, flexing large those acting muscles that were really last on display in 2015's Sleeping With Other People and which give him more berth than just a comedic actor. His Oscar is the epitome of small-town mentality, deep-seated resentments and jealousies writ large, while self-loathing takes over and replaces any promise that may have been harboured within.
A meshing of a beguiling story about control, the monsters within, small-town bitterness and jealousies, Colossal is more a character piece than anything, and a fascinating concept made real and fresh on the big screen. With plenty of suspense and mystery about the initial idea, the film opens like an onion to reveal layers within and layers which aren't directly connected to the thoroughly original premise.
Be warned though - this is no mesh of Pacific Rim or the Godzillas - these are merely incidental pieces of the puzzle.
At the end of the day, though, there's plenty of relatable humanity on show in this emotionally raw and truthful tale that just happens to have two monsters central to its core; fused with some extremely impressive acting, and teased out with flashbacks, the creeping sense of intrigue gives way to something more obvious but nonetheless powerful.
Colossal could well end up being one of the films of the year; it's got originality writ large on it, and thanks to Vigalondo's assured execution and armed with Sudeikis and Hathaway's strong acting, its character-driven edges help elevate it from the usual dross of romantic entanglements and add an element of pure cinematic ingenuity.