The biggest surprise of Colossal is that despite it’s bizarre premise, it actually works very well.
After being dumped by her boyfriend and kicked out of his New York apartment, alcoholic Gloria (Anne Hathaway) returns to her home town to try and rebuild her life. Here she meets up with old childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who runs a local bar and offers her a job to help her get back on her feet. In the meantime, a gigantic, kaiju-style monster appears in Seoul, and starts trashing the city. Gradually Gloria begins to realise that she and the monster are inexplicably connected.
Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted an offbeat, blackly comic and frequently surprising work that feels genuinely different. It’s initial setup seems like familiar indie romantic comedy territory, but it then confounds expectations with some very dark turns. There’s a great central performance from Anne Hathaway, the rest of the cast are good too, and visual effects are limited but well done.
Despite the surreal laughs, Colossal feels unusually serious. A monster is always a metaphor, and in this case the various monster movie metaphors represent not only the damage caused by alcoholism, but also controlling, abusive relationships and the role played by enablers who keep addicts trapped in their cycles of misery. It’s also worth adding the usual warnings for strong language, for those who appreciate them.
To be fair, there are a couple of minor, less convincing moments near the very end, but for the most part Colossal remains a vibrant and unique experience. It won’t be for everyone, but I liked it very much.