Colossal is the latest foray into the writing/directing role for brilliant Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) and jumps straight into a world of magic realism.
Following Gloria (Anne Hathaway) who, after a year of unemployment and binge drinking, is thrown out of her shared apartment by her notably British boyfriend, Tim. With no money and no job, Gloria is forced to move back to her small-town home, empty but for a blow up mattress that inevitably stays inflated for all of one night.
There she meets childhood friend Oscar, who gives her a job at his bar to help her find her way back to normality – whatever that may be.
In what initially appears to be a strange and unrelated disaster, it is reported that Seoul, South Korea is being periodically attacked by a giant monster. It soon emerges that this monster is actually a direct reflection of Gloria’s disastrous life, both metaphorically and literally. That is, when Gloria moves into a certain space at a certain time, she really goes to town on – well – the city. Each time the city has been under attack has been a time when she has been drinking all night at the bar and stumbled into the local park, calling her ex, roaming around aimlessly and falling asleep on park benches.
What emerges from this incredibly odd happenstance is not only a sense of Gloria’s own disorientation with her own life, but also a feeling that becomes more and more clear that the men in Gloria’s life are determined to strip away her autonomy. Soon, the manipulation that Gloria endures becomes markedly uncomfortable, to the point that it begins to produce a visceral, sickening feeling, like the film itself has its hands around your neck.
What’s great about Colossal is that although initially unassuming, the film-making doesn’t miss a beat. When Gloria has her final moment of bittersweet glory, she knowingly describes herself as ‘out of control’ in a way that puts shame to the words Tim throws at her to begin with.
The film marks itself as something which purposely confuses genre. Within the first five minutes it feels like you could have been watching Godzilla, The Dark Knight and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days already. It’s fantasy and stark reality; comedy and drama. However, what’s really subversive about the film is the way in which it both acknowledges Gloria’s real issues and also refuses to let anyone solve them for her. Even at the very end, we get a wry intonation that while some of her troubles are over, she’s still not perfect. Then again, who is?
Words by Catherine Bridgman
Colossal is out in cinemas on May 20, 2017