Direction: Nacho Vigalondo
Actors: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis
Rating: 4 / 5
The concept is a doozy, the treatment appropriately seriocomic, and the performances uniformly enthralling. In other words, Colossal is a guilty pleasure which, given the underwhelming quality of most Hollywood blockbusters nowadays, will likely rank in quite a few best film lists at the end of the year.
The second English-language feature (following Open Windows, 2014) by the cult Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo gets underway with a deceptively tame prologue set 25 years ago in Seoul, South Korea.
A young girl, searching for her missing doll, stumbles upon a giant monster that mysteriously disappears in a puff of smoke without causing any harm.
Cut to present-day New York City. After a domestic quarrel with her live-in boyfriend (Dan Stevens), an out-of-work alcoholic (Anne Hathaway) relocates to her hometown. There she runs into a childhood acquaintance (Jason Sudeikis) who, wouldn’t you know it, runs the local bar.
To her horror, the New Yorker also discovers that her renewed binge drinking is somehow linked to the reappearance of the Godzilla-sized creature who now unleashes a wave of destruction on the East Asian metropolis half a world away.
The magical realist narrative, which requires a suspension of disbelief, is imbued with a sinister streak as it becomes apparent that her former squeaky clean classmate is also capable of manipulating monster attacks in the South Korean capital.
Cue the lush lady-versus-nice guy smackdown. The outcome may be predictable, but it’s orchestrated with a terrific sense of pace and place. The banter in the last shot between the city’s savior and a bartender in Seoul is priceless.
Anne Hathaway, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Les Misérables, gives an uninhibited, delicately layered performance. She is complemented by Jason Sudeikis, who effectively conveys the latent cruelty of his conflicted character. Tim Blake Nelson is impressive as the cocaine-snorting drinking companion.
A cautionary tale which audaciously tweaks the overpopulated creature-feature genre, Colossal is worth seeking out.
Watch the trailer for Colossal here