Final Rating: 8/10
Colossal is a lot of things and somehow, one of them is subtle.
Gloria has been going through a rough patch that’s lasted roughly a year. After her boyfriend kicks her out of their apartment she moves back to her hometown. While there, she takes stock of her crumbling life. Meanwhile Seoul’s got a bigger problem, in the form of a building crushing monster. Unfortunately these issues are connected. The unintended consequences of Gloria’s frenetic lifestyle now wreak havoc on Seoul because she is the monster and her movements control it.
Colossal does something incredibly smart; it takes the small, insignificant problems of two derelict young people and blows them up 20 storeys.
The main characters Gloria and Oscar deal with the listlessness of never feeling good enough, or successful enough… Or big enough. They are their own worst enemies and stand in direct contrast to each other in how they deal with those insecurities. They also stand in direct opposition to each other, both figuratively and literally.
Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is incredibly nuanced. A lot of her character comes out in the dialogue and in her interactions with other characters, but she gives her life with non-verbal ticks and eccentricities. Gloria scrunches her forelocks when she’s nervous or trying to figure something out, she walks a certain way, her posture is completely different than Anne Hathaway’s. Finally, she has a habit of scratching her head, which is plot relevant without being too on the nose.
(From here on there be spoilers. Unavoidable, sorry. My recommendation is to see the movie then come back and read my meta-commentary about it. Now, conjure in your mind the image of a giant monster dancing the hokey pokey. See, isn’t that hilarious? You’ll be fine.)
Jason Sudeikis plays Oscar, Gloria’s childhood friend. His performance shifts from charming jerk into derangement. And it’s seamless. Oscar starts out as a familiar archetype. He’s the goofy guy who’s Always There For You. His “Aw Shucks” way of helping out and deflecting praise is meant to endear the audience (and Gloria) to him. He serves as the folksy opposite to her uptight British ex-boyfriend. We’ve seen it a thousand times and in the language of movies that means that they’re going to Do It. Or fall in love. Depends on the genre.
So we ignore the first few red flags.
I asked other people who saw the movie when they started to feel uneasy about Oscar. For some people it was when he started giving her things. For others it was when he possessively chastised his attractive friend for flirting with Gloria. One guy mentioned that it was when he kept remembering things that Gloria had no memory of telling him.
This was fascinating to me because this facet of the situation had been completely masked, initially, by Gloria’s alcoholism. Gloria’s continued imbibing led the audience to question her reliability as a narrator. Therefore, we didn’t immediately find it suspicious that alleged conversations went unremembered.
In the end this movie is mostly about getting your shit together. Gloria’s journey through her addiction is riddled with potholes in the form of relapses and enablers. When she put herself at risk she would not change, but when she became a danger to others, she could.
At the heart of Colossal is a woman trying to be better, what’s more relatable than that?
Overall, I love this movie but it could have been like half an hour shorter.
Ps: Now how many size/kaiju jokes did I make in this review? Did you catch them all?
PPS: There’s 7!
PPPPS: I’m not that sorry.