So, Colossal. There are movies that truly highlight how great an actress Anne Hathaway is. Like a movie that panders to the Korean market whilst being full of depth, like a movie that follows the trends of robots versus monsters whilst making it a solid metaphor, like a movie that uses visual effects to highlight deeper foundations, like a movie that is all at once funny and sad, heroic and vicious, gripping and light, realist and fictional.
With a plot brilliantly imagined and directed, a cast of well-rounded, realist characters played by great actors (Jason Sudeikis manages to effortlessly create unease and even fear in his calm portrayal of a twistedly drunk volcano) and even extras playing their part rather than chasing the light, this less than 2-hour movie wastes neither your time nor your brain. it is original, quirky. And even dark in places, there is a silver lining in the irony even to the last facial expression of Hathaway that unveils the comedy of life when she literally takes the piss out of us. We’ve got to laugh about it don’t we, and escape the drama that fills our voids with unnecessary tangles of well-knitted pain. There are stills in the movie that mirror life at its lowest moments in the most uncomfortable ways, but never long enough that you might want to adjust your seat or your screen.
Colossal is one of those films that does not make the top 50 of all times, is probably going to be forgotten because it does not make a big deal of itself. It is so much in between genres, so true and laughing and crying about it, it feels too real for a fictional enterprise with fighting monsters and robots. However, I dare say it is worth the watch. I love a film that respects its viewers without being patronising or boring, that mixes in some unusual pairings without being incoherent, that uses metaphors in an effective way, that offers final answers whilst asking additional questions to subtly further the thought beyond the cinematic end.
The mind delightfully sates at the premises that barely see a drunk Hathaway if not through what happens around her and her impact on her surroundings. Everything is implied rather than explicit, from the party of friends that lands at her boyfriend’s place immediately after he leaves (not only are they not surprised to see her in an otherwordly state but they also opened the front door as if they always knew it would be opened to them) to the Seoul destructions and deaths shown through the panic and the fear rather than any gore.
That rather transitions well into the beauty in the film’s details. Observe the way Sudeikis’ face never quite changes as if he mastered his drunkenness in appearances like a volcano that secreets a most destructive lava in the form of his devilish emotional blackmail. In comparison, Hathaway character’s is very extrovert, her face and attitude betraying her feelings in spite of herself, freeing her energy from destructive intentions. The way that the events on the screen and those in reality are sometimes paralleled and sometimes cleverly fused is another example. Another favourite comes at the very end with the final onomatopea coming out of Gloria (Hathaway’s character)’s mouth during her exchange with a Korean bartender, putting back a comic lining in the irony of the final location and question.
The message in Colossal is almost that saving yourself is saving the world. But it feels invertedly that unless we can see our place in the world, our place in saving the world, it is hard to see a point in saving ourselves. Similarly, can the collateral damages of our mistakes truly be wiped from our memories and the minds of those who were affected with a “sorry” even meant, even with the former (mistakes) never again repeated? There is a question mark as to whether the writer glosses over that point (I doubt it but who knows) or has inserted a hint of sarcasm. But even with such occurences, the setting, the supernatural metaphors, the comedy, the film never ceases to be grounded in reality and therefore grip the viewer enough to have their disbelief suspended but never too much to stop smiling or at time just laughing, even when uncomfortably. There is indeed no greater slap into reality than to wake up from drunkenness with the lives of innocent people in your conscience, but can only death gives us such a blow? And what if we don’t care, bred so carefully into minding only our own businesses, being increasingly numbed to other’s pain, and pretending that we have no responsibility in the consequences of our actions?
Of course, the trailer does not prepare for the full film but it is enough, a good trailer even. Even the very few cliches here and there do not take away from the film’s charm. I think I found the word, no matter how unsettling it feels when associated with some clips from the film: this movie is charming to the psyche-pondering mind.
Colossal is a 2016/7 American movie by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo. Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as the lead character Gloria, Jason Sudeikis as Oscar, Gloria’s childhood friend, Dan Stevens as Tim, Gloria’s ex-boyfriend, as well as Oscar’s two friends, the “handsome one” or Joel played by Austin Stowell and Garth, Oscar’s other friend, played by Tim Blake Nelson.